As someone who is interested in the emergence of technologies and their impact on society, I’m completely intrigued by the work of Marshall McLuhan. So, when I opened George Siemen’s weekly email (an invaluable resource), I was immediately drawn to the mention of the McLuhan resource at the Canadian Broadcast Centre (CBC). The CBC has nine audio tapes and nine television pieces on McLuhan, his life and his work. It’s an absolutely fascinating resource for those interested in McLuhan.
I would think that McLuhan is most known for his book “Understanding Media” which contains the provocative statement “the medium is the message.” Basically, McLuhan suggests that the medium, and its impact, is the most important consideration, it’s the message itself. A more eloquent description is from Mark Federman.
“Thus we have the meaning of “medium is the message.” We can know the nature of characteristics of anything we conceive or create (medium) by virtue of the changes-often unnoticed and non-obvious changes-that they effect (message),”
The obvious question here is about the impact of the emergence, growth and development of the Web 2.0 platform, and its potential impact (its message). We’ve already seen how this platform has impacted politics in the United States, and given rise to the citizen journalist, etc. etc.
What I found particularly interesting was the first video(#2), and its description of a new set of media and their perceived impact (again, the message). Here is the transcript of the beginning:
Well, there they are. Our new electronic media or our new gadgets, you push a button and the world’s yours. You know they talk about the world getting smaller, well, it’s thanks to these that it is.
Everywhere is now our own neighborhood.
We know what its like to go on safari in Kenya, or to have an audience with the Pope, or order a cognac in a Paris cafe.
Not only is the world getting smaller, it’s becoming more available and more familiar to our minds and our emotions.
The world is now a global village. A global village.
Does that sound familiar? Could that be a similar description to Web 2.0 and the ability of people to network, to form communities, to develop connections, to make the world smaller, to create a place where “everywhere is now our own neighborhood?
That video was shown on May 18, 1960.
So, as much as our world changes, our perceptions in many ways remain the same.
I would encourage everyone to take a look at the work of McLuhan, and others who have gone before. Much of it can provide a rock solid foundation from which to work.
People have thought of this stuff before…
Note: see Gary Stager’s excellent list of books about education; be sure to read his review of “A Schoolmaster of the Great City” by Angelo Patri.