"The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village. - Marshall McLuhan, "Gutenberg Galaxy", 1962
Once referred to as the "Oracle of the Electronic Age", Marshall McLuhan, may not be as familiar today as he once was to students of media at the height of his fame as a cultural messenger in the 1960's and 1970's. Yet, much of what McLuhan had to say then is very relevant today.McLuhan's notion that the medium changes culture was revolutionary in his time. McLuhan argued that all media, regardless of the content or the messages communicated, exert a great influence on humankind and society
McLuhan argued that there had been three major technological developments that had changed culture. One was the invention of the phonetic alphabet, the 16th century development of movable type, and the invention of the telegraph in 1844 that introduced the age of electronic communication.
McLuhan noted that, "In a culture like ours, long accustomed to splitting and dividing all things as a means of control, it is sometimes a bit of a shock to be reminded that, in operational and practical fact, the medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium - that is, of any extension of ourselves - result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology." (Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964)
It was the subject of media and culture that would occupy most of McLuhan's career. It was his task to study, research,understand and describe the effects of technology and popular culture, and how they affected human beings as individuals and the releation ship between individuals and others as community. McLuhan explored the idea of a "global village" years before the development of the World Wide Webwhich indeed created the world-wide electronic village McLuhan had envisioned in his probing of the topic.
McLuhan was an academic who wrote popular books on media and culture. He was on the faculty at the University of Toronto and was associated with Fordham University in New York city.
His books were the must read titles of the '60's and '70's such as "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man," "The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man," and "The Gutenberg Galaxy."
Explore these links to learn more about this fascinating writer and thinker:
Marshall McLuhan. By Mark Federman. Biographical article about the life of this 20th century pundit.
Marshall McLuhan 1911-1980. This official not-for-profit web site is maintained by the estate of Marshall McLuhan to ensure the integrity of his name and legacy
Marshall McLuhan. This page features links to biographical material as well as links to journals, papers, projects, courses, research centers and new releases relevant to the life and work of the late Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan.
The McLuhan Probes. The McLuhan Probes is an electronic magazine co-produced by The Herbert Marshall McLuhan Foundation and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
Marshall McLuhan, the Man and his Message. CBC Archive. Although educated in literature, Marshall McLuhan was known as a pop philosopher. McLuhan’s ideas are new again, applied to the electronic media that he predicted.
Historical Minutes. Recreation dramatization. Working with the ideas of Harold Innis, another Canadian communications expert, McLuhan popularized the idea that our technologies have a profound effect upon our lives, culture, and history.
McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology. The McLuhan Program's mandate is to encourage understanding of the impacts of technology on culture and society from theoretical and practical perspectives, and thus to continue the ground-breaking work initiated by Marshall McLuhan.
The Playboy Interview: Marshall McLuhan. A candid conversation with the high priest of pop cult and metaphysician of media.