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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 2. McLuhan’s Methodology: Media as Extensions of Man and Mankind


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I am simply identifying modes of experience. We need new perceptions to cope. Our technologies are generations ahead of our thinking. If you begin to think about these new technologies you appear as a poet because you are dealing with the present as the future. That is my technique.

—Marshall McLuhan (1997), The Hot and Cool Interview

2.1  There Was Method in His Madness

Marshall McLuhan’s style of research or exploration was completely unorthodox and was built on an interesting collection of influences including writers and artists such as Baudelaire, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Wyndham Lewis, and Proust, and scholars including Henri Bergson, Elias Canetti, Siegfried Giedeon, E. H. Gombrich, Edward Hall, William Ivins, Lewis Mumford, I. A. Richards, Hans Selye, and Lynn White. But perhaps the greatest influence of all came from his colleague at the University of Toronto, the political economist Harold Innis (1951, 1950/1972), whose influence McLuhan (1972) readily credited in the foreword to the 1972 edition of Innis’s Empire and Communications, where he described his work “as a footnote to the observations of Innis.” ← 19 | 20 →

Innis and McLuhan formed the core of the Toronto School of Communications, which also included Eric Havelock and Ted Carpenter, the co-editor with McLuhan of the journal Explorations in Communications, along with McLuhan’s many co-authors listed in the footnote below.1


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