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Understanding New Media

Extending Marshall McLuhan – Second Edition


Robert K. Logan

Marshall McLuhan made many predictions in his seminal 1964 publication, Understanding Media: Extensions of Man. Among them were his predictions that the Internet would become a «global village,» making us more interconnected than television; the closing of the gap between consumers and producers; the elimination of space and time as barriers to communication; and the melting of national borders. He is also famously remembered for coining the expression «the medium is the message.» These predictions form the genesis of this updated volume by Robert K. Logan, a friend and colleague who worked with McLuhan. In this second edition of Understanding New Media Logan expertly updates McLuhan’s Understanding Media to analyze the «new media» McLuhan foreshadowed and yet was never able to analyze or experience. The book is designed to reach a new generation of readers as well as appealing to scholars and students who are familiar with Understanding Media.
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Appendix. McLuhan’s Methodology: There Was Method in His Madness


← 424 | 425 →


McLuhan’s Methodology: There Was Method in His Madness

This Appendix provides the reader with a detailed discussion of each of the 38 elements of McLuhan’s methodology as outlined in Chapter 2.

A.1  The Equivalence of Media and Technologies

Although McLuhan (1964) called his book Understanding Media and he analyzed many different media ranging from the spoken and written word to radio, movies, and television, he also included a number of technological tools such as roads, clothing, housing, clocks, the wheel, the bicycle, the airplane, the motor car, weapons, and automation. All media, with the exception of the spoken word, involved some human artifact or technology. His use of the term “technology” included not only hardware but also all forms of organization and communications media such as computers. The fact that computers are referred to as information technology supports the notion that the distinction between media and technology is an artificial one. ← 425 | 426 →

A.2  Technology as Extensions of the Body and Media as Extensions of the Psyche

Because technologies and media enhance human functions they may be regarded as extensions of our being. McLuhan (1964) observed that mechanical technologies extended our bodies in space and that electric technology extended our central nervous system into what he termed “a global embrace, abolishing both space and time” (p. 3). The integrated nature of the total communications/technology environment is a consequence of this fact. “Since all...

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