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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 34. Hybrid or Convergent Technologies


← 274 | 275 →

· 34 ·


“The crossing or hybridization of the media release great new forces and energy by fission [as in literate media] and fusion [as in electric media].”

—McLuhan (1964, p. 48)

Content and extension: Hybrid or convergent (5.7) technologies extend and amplify the technologies of which they are composed and hence each represents the end product of a cascading chain of technologies. All “new media” are hybrid technologies. A prime example of a hybrid technology is a microcomputer system (desktop or notebook) that consists of a power supply, microelectronic chips and circuits, software of various types, a video display, a printer, a scanner, a mouse, game peripherals, a CD or DVD player, speakers, access to the Internet and World Wide Web, and possibly agents and bots.

Cascade: The cascade is from those parts of the psyche extended by each of the components of the hybrid technology or medium to the components themselves.

LOM: Hybrid technologies enhance convenience, obsolesce many individual devices, retrieve the Swiss Army knife, and reverse into clutter. ← 275 | 276 →

“The hybrid or the meeting of two media is a moment of truth and revelation from which new form is born” (McLuhan, 1964, p. 55). Hybrid systems operate more efficiently than the individual components from which they emerge. Hence, the synergy they represent releases new forms of energy, creating additional “vortices of power.” Electric systems, which favor...

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