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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Global Village

Is the Medium still the message Marshall? For those of you who haven't heard of Marshall Mcluhan, look him up, he's a really futurist, and really was the first to say, publiclly atleast, that we were heading toward becoming a 'global village'. In the 60's Mcluhan was a literary writer, and philosopher, and a communication theorist. He grew up when radio was first taking hold, and saw the invention of the TV, and even saw the beginings of the computer revolution. He really had a first hand look at these new devices for communication, shape and reorganize the way we talk, share, and store information.
What Mcluhan predicted would come about to change the landscape of the way we communicate forever. First, he really went out of his way to make the point that the new form of communication itself has a greater effect on us, than what the device actually provides.. For example, the effect the telephone has on us, is more important than messages passed back and forth through the wires. He means this to say that, the phone, makes communication quicker, and easier, and that's whats important, not that Jane say John flirting with Jessica at the park. This can still be applied today, in form of communication networks, like facebook and twitter. Because Facebook provides such an all inclusive way to know what you're friends are doing, this has many effects on our social lives, and the same with twitter. Its not an understatement, to say that these social devices can change the way we live. Instead of calling up Jane now, and planning to meet at Starbucks, we can talk to her in cyberspace, via Facebook. That, Mculhan feels, is whats important, in the invention of these communication tools.

Another idea that Mcluhan brought to light was the idea of something called the Global Village. And this idea is easy enough to understand. Marshall grew up in a time when the world was getting smaller. The telephone had recently come into play, then the radio, then Tv, then the computer. With each milestone, the world shrunk a little. People had to travel less to talk, and communicate. And what was even more intriguing, is that the effect of all this mass communication would lead to what his felt was a "tribal collective". Instead of the individual man, learning things for himself, and having knowledge for his own needs, people would be sharing information. It would be universal knowledge, literally. Once upon a time, things like computer repair work would have to be done by a professional. If something went wrong with your computer, unless you were a technician, you would take it to be fixed. Now with the internet and this mass availability of knowledge, there are many people who can find tutorials, and information to to the work themselves. Soon everyone will have knowledge on how to fix computers, or change your oil, or how to play piano, or network a system of computers. Mcluhan feels that this mass shared knowledge is turning the world from a group of individual thinkers, to a collected conciousness. It bringing the world together not so much in peace, but in shared information, such a small village... We would all be aware of what are neighbors are up to. While Marshall never really says rather he thinks this is a good idea or not, he believed that it was unimportant and that the evolution of technology would continue like a butterfly flapping its wings. Unavoidable.

Mcluhan who died in 1980, fell just shy of seeing the birth of the World Wide Web, which he predicted way back in 1962:
"The next medium, whatever it is - it may be the extension of consciousness - will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual's encyclopedic function and flip into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind"

I think that says it all, he really foresaw what was coming down the tubes, and remember, its not what the internet gives us in knowledge, but rather what effect the web has on our social and everyday lives. Just as Gutenbergs, printing machine changed the way people receieved knowledge in the 1400's, Mcluhan knew that an interface such as the web would change how we research, development and communicate with information.

Check out this vid of Marshall Mculhan:


  1. that video was really interesting to watch

  2. It seems to my average intellect that the two concepts subvert each other. The Global Village relies heavily on the content of these new mediums, while the first idea specifically denies the effect such content.

  3. I already knew that!But the video make me sure about what i knew ;)

  4. that video was something else :D