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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 37. The Smartphone


← 290 | 291 →

· 37 ·


“The electric implosion now brings oral and tribal ear-culture to the literate West.”

—McLuhan (1964, p. 50)

When McLuhan wrote this line he was probably thinking about television and other electric media of his day, but in light of the emergence of the cell phone followed by the smartphone it takes on added meaning. McLuhan would probably suggest that the reason that the cell phone was initially even more ubiquitous in some Asian nations such as Korea and Japan than it was in the West is because the Asians are closer to their oral roots than Westerners. Who knows, this probe may even be correct. The smartphone, however, with all its analytic functions such as its connection to the Internet is now a ubiquitous global phenomenon, as much a part of Western culture as Eastern.

Content and extension: The content of the smartphone is the spoken and written word, hence the smartphone extends the ear, the voice, the spoken word, the written word, and the mind, but it also extends the telephone system through radio transmission.

Cascade: The cascade is from the mind to the spoken word to the transmitting smartphone to the receiving smartphone or telephone to the ear of the receiving party. ← 291 | 292 →

LOM: The cell phone enhances the mobility of telephone communication and its accessibility, obsolesces the landline, retrieves nomadic existence, and reverses into a...

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