Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980): Canadian Catholic professor and intellectual.
THE GUTENBERG GALAXY: THE MAKING OF TYPOGRAPHIC MAN (1962)
THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE (1967)
“Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication”. McLuhan believes that ‘electric technology’ encourages ‘involvement’ (which today we may call ‘engagement’).
‘Electric circuitry’ has made the concept of reading information in private obsolete. Any form of parochialism is challenged by the constant flow of information and perpetual change. Since information is pervasive, the audience should no longer be considered passive but also a participating force.
“The living room has become a voting booth”.
“The instantaneous world of electric informational media involves all of us, all at once. No detachment… is possible.”
Just like the wheel is an extension of the foot and clothing an extension of skin, McLuhan sees the ‘electric circuitry’ as an “extension of the central nervous system”. Men change because media evoke in us particular sense perceptions.
We now live in a ‘global village’ where we are all inter-connected. Communication is instantaneous.
Cities will be like “World’s Fairs—places in which to show off new technology, not places of work or residence”.
War is now ‘information war’.
Electric information is creating a new form of tribalism.
WAR AND PEACE IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE (1968)
Each medium or technology creates a new sensory environment for the human being.
With satellites and information technology, environment is man-made. So the concept of ‘nature’ in the older sense vanishes.
New “information environments are direct extensions of our own nervous system”. The computer and the human nervous system are connected like a feedback mechanism. With the electric circuitry the environment itself is the medium.
On the use of information for war: “The television war has meant the end of the dichotomy between civilian and military. The public is now participant in every phase of the war, and the main actions of the war are now being fought in the American home itself”.
New technologies change environments and sensory ratios