Carmel Roche - McLuhan Essay
McLuhan is perhaps the most famous media theorist of the second half of the 20th century, who continues to be a source of stimulation and controversy some years after his death. McLuhan's thesis is that a major new medium of communication changes the ratio of the senses, the patterns of everyday life, modes of social interaction and communication and many other things that we don't usually focus on. Understanding media requires understanding the form of the media and its structural effects. For McLuhan, the book and print media produced individualism, nationalism, democracy, capitalism, but also the assembly line, linear thinking, and the like. The light TV, digital camera and video all new modes of journalism transforming war and the whole field of the social a field of surveillance and documentation video as weapon of war, i.e. prisoner abuse pictures, Nick Berg beheading, etc. I suggest that McLuhan is indeed perhaps more important and relevant today, that TV couldn't really work to provide the break, the rupture, the transition to a new historical era that he postulated, TV was obviously a crucially important media, had tremendous effects, but did not create an entire new culture, sensibility, way of seeing, relating, communicating etc, though I would imagine that it had much more significant effects than most people were aware, perhaps even changing our sensibility and habits of thought and perception. McLuhan's thesis is that a major new medium of communication changes the ratio of the senses, the patterns of everyday life, modes of social interaction and communication and many other things that we don't usually focus on but I thought that he exaggerated role of TV and don't know if TV and other electronic communication of the '60s could bear the burden of legitimating McLuhan's claim that we were literally moving into a new electronic culture, a new stage of history. The Internet is another media that has been changing our way of living, doing business and even social interaction. Nowadays people meet in the virtual space through chats and other tools to bring people together. But now I would argue that McLuhan is most valuable for anticipating the revolutionary effects of the new computer culture, for providing concepts that help us grasp the enormity of the transition, for focusing attention on how important new media can be, and for helping us understand the transformation going on. McLuhan’s most general perspectives are oral culture based on spoken word involves all the senses, highly participatory focused attention, tribal culture, fixed roles, relatively stable and unchanging values of rhetoric education, rote recitation scholasticism subverted by books, the first teaching machine. Print culture based on written word detached individualism values of logic, rationality, argument linear modes of thought and social organization mechanized labor. Mechanization takes command; it centralizes social and economic organization. Electronic culture and technology, hybridization of media new tribalism all-at-onceness, simultaneity. Windows especially with push culture of images and spectacles universal binary language, global village, Bill Gates as the vehicle of McLuhanism. McLuhan seems to celebrate this new electronic, tribal culture, all senses into play, overcome abstract rationalism participation, involvement, total personality. Anti McLuhan we can name computers as higher stage of abstraction, global village, cosmic consciousness, overcome of individualism and nationalism. Nationalism negative aspects of electronic culture not stressed by McLuhan are diminishing rationality, linear thinking, print literacy diminishing individuality, critical consciousness, social action and involvement increased passivity, narcissism, and escape true of television age, maybe not so much computer culture although there is some negative overlap. I don’t believe I can predict how the Internet will look like in the future although one thing is undeniable; the power of the Internet is irresistible to human kind. Lives in the future will be based on the importance of the Internet. Walking around with wearable computers connected to a network through wireless connection is a future nearby, just around the corner.