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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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Part II. How the New Media Have Impacted the Media Analyzed in Understanding Media (UM)


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The Analysis of Media From UM

We re-analyze all the media that McLuhan treated in UM by explicitly identifying exactly what parts of the body or psyche they extend. As the content of all media is some other medium we identify what previous or older medium or technology they extend and hence by recursion identify the newer medium as an extension of an extension. As a consequence, we also show how a medium is a cascade of the other media that form its content.

The numbering and titles of the chapters in Part II follows the same numbering and titles McLuhan used in UM and hence starts with Chapter 8— “The Spoken Word.” (The material in Part I was purposely divided into seven chapters so we could preserve this correspondence.) The reader might want to consider reading the chapters in Part II alongside the corresponding chapters in McLuhan’s Understanding Media.

In order to better illustrate our notion of media cascades, we have added three media that McLuhan chose not to analyze, namely:

As each medium is an extension of man or some aspect of the human body or psyche, each chapter begins with a description of the content of the medium and what it is that is extended. As all media represent a cascade of other media and/or technologies,...

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