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 you see on the phone.

Marshall McLuhan (1977, age 66).  Just something I’ve observed

Here’s something I’ve noticed for years.  Receptionists in the business world have all had the experience of finally meeting people in person they’ve only known by their discarnate voice over the telephone.  They tell me that they are surprised to discover that these people do not look the way they thought they would look.  For the most part, they cannot tell me why they are surprised, only that they are surprised.

Me (May 2010, age 57).   What does experience tell us?

This observation forms the basis for one of Marshall McLuhan’s “warm up” exercises to “sharpen your powers of observation,” which you can find in his book City as Classroom.

This is one of those observations that strikes me as true to experience, and at the same time peculiar and strangely unsettling to those who have experienced it.  The key questions about it I think are “Why?” and “So what?”  And whether it is an experience peculiar to the telephone.

Have you ever had such an experience?  Have you ever had a similar experience using the new social media?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Marshall McLuhan, Kathryn Hutchon, and Eric McLuhan, City as Classroom:  Understanding Language and Media,  1977,   pp. 7.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Communication, Technology, Vol. 1 No Comments

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