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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 8. The Spoken Word


← 114 | 115 →

· 8 ·


Content and extension: The contents of the spoken word are the mental processes they extend via the medium of the voice into sounds that communicate thoughts, ideas, and intentions. The spoken word therefore extends the mind.

Cascade: This is from thoughts and intentions to the spoken word. LOM: The spoken word enhances thought and communication, obsolesces mimetic communication (i.e., communication by gesture, hand signal, body language, and non-verbal communication), retrieves inner thought, and reverses into written communication.

Impact of “New Media” on the Spoken Word

In the Sixth Language, I (Logan, 2004b) developed the idea that the Internet is a language. David Crystal (2001) went one better, pointing out that the Internet, in fact, has many different forms of language, which include e-mail, instant messaging, texting, the World Wide Web, Google Groups, Twitter, blogs, Listservs, Instagram, Pinterest, to mention a few. From my perspective, each of these services available on the Internet has slightly different syntaxes ← 115 | 116 → and vocabularies and hence they may be regarded as separate forms of language or at least dialects of the Internet or the sixth language.

One of the possible impacts of the “new media” on spoken language is a reduction in the number of languages spoken. There is a fear that through the universal use of the Internet, English will completely dominate the other languages of the world and perhaps obsolesce many of...

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