A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

What’s in a name?

Marshall McLuhan (March 3, 1963, age 51). I hope it smells as sweet!

Congratulations are in order.  Cigars all round; I’ve just been appointed the Director of the Center for the Study of the Media as Extensions of Man – a new interdisciplinary seminar for graduate students.  Our aim will be to explore the hidden effects of media on society.  I cannot understand, however, why Graduate Studies and Claude Bissell – our beloved President at Toronto University – insisted it be called the “Centre for Culture and Technology.”  

Me (February 2010, age 57).  What’s in this name?

Today the “Centre for Culture and Technology” continues on as the “McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology.”  The original name has always struck me as a little odd, as does “Run for Breast Cancer.”  Why “for”?  Runners for Breast cancer are not for but against breast cancer.  McLuhan was “for” culture, but the centre’s job was not to fight “for” culture.  And he was not “for” technology.   If anything – he never drove a car, gave up radio in college, and was a late adopter of the wrist watch – he was against technology.

The center was as he described it in a letter “for the study of media and society.”  Why didn’t the university call it that?  Is it natural to assume “the study of” part is self evident?  And why the substitution of “technology” for “media” and “culture for “society”?  Are these really improvements?

What do you think?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p.288.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Education, Technology, Vol. 1 No Comments

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