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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 26. The Typewriter


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· 26 ·


Content and extension: The typewriter extends the use of the written word, and hence, like other media that extend the written word, it extends the mind.

Cascade: The cascade is from the mind to the spoken word to the written word to the typewritten word.

LOM: The typewriter enhances writing, obsolesces the fountain pen, retrieves the personal secretary, and reverses into word processing.

The typewriter is almost totally obsolesced. One rarely sees one these days. One can still buy a typewriter, however. Many used ones are bought as collector items. Some are still being manufactured, but the numbers are tiny compared to the number of computers that are manufactured. At any rate, the typewriter lives on morphed onto the computer keyboard retaining the original QWERTY arrangement of the keys as a vestigial structure in the evolution of writing machines. The QWERTY arrangement of the keys dates back to the early days of the typewriter when the manufacturers of typewriters instituted this standard in order to slow down the speed of the typist so that the keys ← 221 | 222 → would not get entangled. After improving the mechanism there was no longer a need for this inefficient arrangement of the keys; however, it was too late to change back to a better arrangement. By this time, QWERTY had become the standard for typing, and it also survived the transition from typewriters to computers and is...

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