Thursday, July 21, 2011

The medium is the message. Or is it?

Today's a pretty notable day for folks interested in understanding not just how media and technology work, but how they change our world. And how they change us, for that matter. That's because 100 years ago today, Marshall McLuhan was born.

He may not be a household name, but his theories and perspectives on media may sound familiar. "The medium is the message" is probably his most famous line. "Global village," too. "Turn on, tune in, drop out" may have been made famous by Timothy Leary, but McLuhan originated it. Beyond these sound bites for the ages, the man was a professor, a visionary, someone who wasn't afraid to leave the past behind as he painted a picture of a radically different future for us all.

He died December 31, 1980, long before the Internet became a reality for most of us. But his writing accurately predicted the kind of interconnected, permanently changed world that ensued. For much of my own career, I've nodded toward his legacy as I've evolved my somewhat contrarian view that the vessels of technology, the gadgets, matter far less than the implications of their use.

I was privileged to receive an assignment from Yahoo! Canada this week to write about the man and this milestone. The piece, 100 years today: Predictor of the Internet Marshall McLuhan leaves lasting message, published on the site's Daily Brew blog earlier today. Here's the link.

I hope you enjoy the read. And I hope you'll pop back here when you're done to share a thought or two.

1 comment:

Kalei's Best Friend said...

"Perhaps his most famous quote, "The medium is the message," is also perhaps his most misunderstood.
Was he saying the meaning of what we consumed was exclusively shaped by the means with which it was delivered?"

I believe this is the key to what he was trying to get across.. And yes, he may be one in a million to have gotten it and tried to communicate it.. Even if there was another like him, how many would listen?
Did anyone listen to the Green Peace organization? Back in the day, most thought they were kooky fanaticals.. Little did we know they may have come off as overkill in conservation/preservation maybe the world wouldn't be in such a mess today..
Seems as tho people only listen when it effects them.. sad isn't it? "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".