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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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Chapter 1. “New Media” and Marshall McLuhan: An Introduction


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“Much of what McLuhan had to say makes a good deal more sense today than it did in 1964 because he was way ahead of his time.”

—Okwor Nicholas (2005)

“I don’t necessarily agree with everything I say.”

—Marshall McLuhan (personal communication)

1.1  Objectives of This Book

One objective of this book is to develop an understanding of “new media” and their impact using the ideas and methodology of Marshall McLuhan, with whom I had the privilege of a 6-year collaboration. We will try to understand how the “new media” are changing our world. We will also examine how the “new media” are impacting the traditional or older media that McLuhan (1964) studied in Understanding Media: Extensions of Man, hereafter referred to simply as UM. In pursuing these objectives we hope to extend and update McLuhan’s lifelong analysis of media. One final objective is to give the reader a better understanding of McLuhan’s revolutionary body of work, which is often misunderstood and criticized because of a lack of understanding of exactly what McLuhan was trying to achieve through his work. ← 1 | 2 →

Philip Marchand, in an April 30, 2006, Toronto Star article, unaware of my project, nevertheless described my motivation for writing this book and the importance of McLuhan to understanding “new media”:

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