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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 36. Personal Computers


← 282 | 283 →

· 36 ·


“The computer is the first machine that consumes and produces the same material—information.”

—William Jovanovich

Content and extension: The personal computer (desktop or notebook) extends the mind and the information created by the mind through the storage and processing of that information. The notebook extends the microcomputer by making it more portable, and the microcomputer extends the computer by making it personal.

Cascade: The cascade is from the mind to the spoken word to the written word and numbers to information to the computer. There is a cascade from the mainframe computer to the minicomputer to the microcomputer (or desktop) to the notebook.

LOM: The personal computer enhances access to computing, obsolesces the mainframe, retrieves the personal secretary and administrative assistant, and reverses into information overload. ← 283 | 284 →

36.1  Introduction

In the first edition of this book I devoted three chapters to personal computer hardware: Chapter 36—“The Cell Phone”; Chapter 37—“The Personal Computer”; and Chapter 38—“The Personal Digital Assistant (PDA).” The landscape of computing devices has become more complex in the 6 years since the publication of the first edition. The cell phone is now referred to as the smartphone and operates in many ways like a personal computer. The PDA has basically disappeared, as the functions it provided are now performed by smartphones. At the same time, the variety of personal computers...

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