Extending Marshall McLuhan – Second Edition
Chapter 7. Scaffolding and Cascading Technologies and Media: Understanding New Media as the Extensions of Earlier Media or the Extensions of Extensions
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SCAFFOLDING AND CASCADING TECHNOLOGIES AND MEDIA: UNDERSTANDING NEW MEDIA AS THE EXTENSIONS OF EARLIER MEDIA OR THE EXTENSIONS OF EXTENSIONS
7.1 Media as the Extensions of Man
Marshall McLuhan (1964) in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (UM) developed the hypothesis that media and technologies are extensions of the human body and psyche. He also observed in this revolutionary work that the content of any new medium is an older medium. We extend these two propositions of McLuhan’s by combining them to develop the hypothesis that a new medium is the extension of an older medium and, hence, recursively, is an extension of an extension. We also show that new media emerge from and are extensions of older media as part of a cascade of technologies paralleling the “ratchet effect” of Tomasello, Kruger, and Ratner (1993), Clark’s (1997) notion of cognitive “scaffolding,” and Logan’s (1995, 2004b) notion of the interplay of the cognitive, technical, and social aspects of technology.
Marshall McLuhan’s (1964) revolutionary book UM was built on the premise that media and technologies represent extensions of either our bodies or our psyches. Physical technologies are regarded as extensions of the body so that clothing is an extension of the skin, the hammer an extension of the fist, and the wheel an extension of the foot. Media of communication are regarded as extensions of our psyche or nervous system. The notion that technologies ← 99 | 100 → and media...
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