Again and again and again I find “probes” from Marshall McLuhan mesmerizingly prescient.
Again and again and agin, Marshall anticipated, prescribed even, the Internet, the Web and Social Media some 50 years ago. Imagine being 50 years ahead of your time.
Moreover, he did so from a modernist frame; you didn’t need a postmodernist prerequisite to understand him. Striding between or straddling the dialectical divide is a stunning feat in itself; he even dumbed down “the medium is the message” to “the medium is the massage” in the ’70s as a capitulation to the less deft. But he’s fundamentally a modernist, a constructionist. His intent, a clarion call to electric media awareness. His method, traditionally didactic. Let us begin.
“Media are means of extending and enlarging our organic sense lives into our environment. When technology extends one of our senses, a new translation of culture occurs as swiftly as the new technology is interiorized.”
If you’re reading this blog, the point is aptly demonstrated.
“The humanly contrived environment of electric information and power has begun to take precedence over the old environment of nature. Nature, as it were, begins to be the content of our technology. Each new technology is a reprogramming of social life.”
Social networking is most comprehensively understood within this model. All cultural forms — even a poke between friends — are digitized, transformed and transacted as new social currencies.
Speaking of his own era:
“We are as numb in our new electric world as the native involved in our literate and mechanical culture. Youth instinctively understand the present environment – the electric drama. It live mythically and in depth. The mosaic form demands participation and involvement in depth, of the whole being…”
Coincidentally, the name of the Web browser to popularize the Web: Mosaic.
“The age of writing has passed. We must invent a new metaphor, restructure our thoughts and feelings. The new media are not bridges between man and nature — they are nature.”
I’ll leave it at that for the moment. More to come if I continue to have more time.
More on Marshall McLuhan…