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transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture 2017 in Berlin to be Delivered by Dr. Sarah Sharma

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 01/18/2017 - 4:38pm


This year’s transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture will be delivered by Sarah Sharma, Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology at the University of Toronto, who has focused on the intersectional politics of time, class, gender, and race in her research. For the lecture, Sharma will speak under the title “Exit and the Extensions of Man”, which extends from her ongoing research on the male fantasy of exit as it manifests itself in a set of seemingly disparate sites: nationalist movements, robots designed to provide loving care, and the leftist refusal of work paradigm. While taking stock of this masculinist penchant for exit and paying particular attention to the «message» and extensions of our new machines, Sharma considers whether a door has opened for a feminist exit movement. In her talk, Sharma wonders who will pick up the pieces when the robots leave and there is nowhere left to go?

Free admission   –   Please present a valid photo-ID at the door and allow sufficient time for Embassy security. Doors open 18:00 / start 18:30

The transmediale Marshall McLuhan lecture is realized in cooperation with the Embassy of Canada to Germany and its Marshall McLuhan Salon, which holds one of the most significant collections of audio-visual material by and about the Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, as well as a large number of his publications. (Source: )

sarah-sharma Dr. Sarah Sharma

“My research focuses on the relationship between technology and culture with a particular focus on social inequalities. One key strand of my research has focused on time as a site of social difference in a culture that is imagined to be technologically speeding up. I am currently at work on a new project that engages medium theory and feminist approaches to technology on such sites as     algorithmic culture, the “sharing” economy, and the changing structures of care labour”.        

Read more about Sarah Sharma here .


transmediale Marshall McLuhan Salon exhibition

Ben Bogart: «Watching (Blade Runner)»
Following the transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture by Sarah Sharma, an installation by Vancouver based artist Ben Bogart opens in the Marshall McLuhan Salon of the Embassy of Canada. The work «Watching (Blade Runner)» (2016) is the latest installment of the series “Watching and Dreaming.” Initiated in 2014, this series of works are the result of statistically oriented machine learning and computer vision algorithms attempting to understand popular cinematic depictions of Artificial Intelligence by breaking apart and reconstructing them. The machines’ understanding is manifest in their ability to recognize, and eventually predict, the structure of the films they watch. The images produced are the result of both the system’s projection of imaginary structure, and the structure of the films themselves. What is watching? What are the mechanisms that allow recognize patterns and regularity in the noise and complexity of observable reality? How do we integrate the continuous flow of information into a cohesive world-view? These are among the questions at the centre of Ben Bogart’s artistic inquiry.
Opening: 31 January 2017, 20:00
1–5 February 2017, 14:00–18:00

transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture and transmediale Marshall McLuhan Salon Exhibition is a cooperation between transmediale — festival for art and digital culture berlin and the Embassy of Canada in Berlin.



Categories: Blog

McLuhan Centre Winter Program: Monday Night Seminar on Creative Data, January 23

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 01/16/2017 - 7:47pm

New Coach Hose

Monday Night Seminar: Creative Data

LOCATION: McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, 39A Queens Park Crescent                       East off 121 St. Joseph St., Toronto, ON M5S 2C3   View Map

Monday Night Seminar, Monday, January 23rd, 6:00 PM

A Public Lecture followed by Discussion

 With Richard Lachman, Transmedia Zone, Ryerson University
& Eric Miller, University of Toronto, Engineering Department

Moderator: Paolo Granata




Categories: Blog

McLuhan on Campus Exhibit (Oct 13 – Dec 20, 2016) Featured on Salt + Light Television

McLuhan Galaxy - Sun, 01/15/2017 - 4:03pm


Click on images for closer view.

A multi-media exhibition   –   Oct 13-Dec 20, 2016
John M. Kelly Library, St. Michael’s College, 113 St. Joseph Street, Toronto

Explore the development of Marshall McLuhan’s theories in the context of his academic and personal life at the University of St. Michael’s College. McLuhan’s central role in the rise of the Toronto School of Communication is presented through artifacts, audio, texts, video and photographs selected from archival repositories across the University of Toronto and the Federated Colleges of St. Michael’s, Trinity and Victoria. The exhibition will feature items drawn from the Special Collections and holdings at St. Michael’s, including material from the Sheila and Wilfred Watson archives, Donald Theall papers and Marshall McLuhan collection. Rare and intimate examples on display include McLuhan’s correspondence and collaborations with friends and colleagues on campus such as Claude Bissell, Tom Easterbrook, Carl Williams, Harold Innis, Edmund Carpenter and Northrop Frye.                                                                                                                           kelly_library_mmexhibit

On a recent episode of Catholic Focus, Salt + Light Television featured the McLuhan on Campus: Local Inspirations, Global Visions exhibit in the John M. Kelly Library at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto. Host Deacon Pedro Guevara Mann spoke with Kelly Library Archivist Simon Rogers as well as Michael McLuhan, son of St. Mike’s very own Marshall McLuhan, about both the exhibit and the man behind it.

Photographs of the McLuhan on Campus Exhibit by Yours Truly




20161107_164941The Coach House telephone used by McLuhan


Categories: Blog

McLuhan Salon #3: McLuhan Salon: Hacks, Leaks and Breaches, January 19, 2017

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 01/05/2017 - 11:42pm


The McLuhan Salons are back!

We have teamed up with the Toronto Reference Library to present a discussion on the thorny ethics of hacks and leaks, with expert on Anonymous, Gabriella Coleman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, Mark Surman and Fortune writer Mathew Ingram. Join us!

Thursday, 19 January, 2017 at 7:00 PM

Toronto Reference Library, Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, 

                   789 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M4W 2G8                   


Registration is free but required. Limit two tickets per valid email address. Doors open at 6 pm. Please join us for a cash bar reception starting at 6 pm. As most Appel Salon events are free, it is TPL policy to overbook. In case of a full program, your ticket reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend you arrive early.

Room Capacity: Based on fire code regulations the Appel Salon can accommodate seating for 458 in the main room. Seating is on a first-come, first served basis. Additional overflow seating, as well as standing-room, is available in the adjoining room.


Toronto Reference Library


Bram & Bluma Appel Salon


Categories: Blog

Marshall McLuhan Can Save Humans From Destroying Ourselves With Technology

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 01/03/2017 - 7:37pm


Marshall McLuhan is still the most penetrating Christian humanist to grasp that technology has forced us to rediscover how humans can use it to advance our species and preserve its humanity.

James Poulos By  , January 3, 2017

It’s time—again—for a resurgence of interest in Marshall McLuhan. After a posthumous revival in the 1970s and ‘80s, McLuhan fans renovated his legacy again in the mid-‘90s, as Muhlenberg professor of media Jefferson Pooley notes in a new appraisal at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Just last year, Pooley observes, Tom Wolfe, who helped make McLuhan famous way back when, gave tribute in a taped appearance to his enduring relevance. “Today thousands of young Internet apostles are familiar with Marshall McLuhan,” the old New Journalist said, “and are convinced that his light shines round about them.”

To be sure, the visionary theorist, famous for buzz phrases like “the global village” and “the medium is the message,” was primed for importance in the Internet era back when the most even he could divine was a coming “electric age.” But were McLuhan merely a cross between David Riesman and Shingy, his voluminous pop prophesies would be plowed under by the very deluge of content and change-ology that he predicted would come to define our immersive media experience.

McLuhan is far more than an egghead or a guru—and, in a subtler way, beautifully less than either. He is, still, the most prolific and penetrating Christian humanist to grasp that technology has forced us to rediscover how humans can use it to advance our species and preserve its humanity. The time has come to care about McLuhan again because the time has come to pull off that rediscovery before it’s too late.

McLuhan Knew Internet Would Change Our Workplaces

But how? The key is found in the gap between the McLuhan of the elite imagination and the real McLuhan, the man of faith whose existence is a muted but open secret. The first McLuhan was already in place when Wolfe first profiled him—the McLuhan who foretold how the future us will act.

“They will work at home, connected to the corporation, the boss, not by roads or railroads, but by television,” Wolfe summed it up. “They will relay information by closed-circuit two-way TV and by computer systems. The great massive American rush-hour flow over all that asphalt surface, going to and from work every day, will be over. The hell with all that driving. Even shopping will be done via TV. All those grinding work-a-daddy cars will disappear. The only cars left will be playthings, sports cars. They’ll be just like horses are today, a sport. Somebody over at General Motors is saying—What if he is right?”

Well, he wasn’t all right. But in our ongoing headlong retreat from the collective effort of civil society, with the biggest of marketplaces moving out of the open air and the big box store and into the cloud, he could still be more right.

“Whole cities, and especially New York, will end too just like cars, no longer vital to the nation but…just playthings,” Wolfe marveled at the McLuhan whose prognostications captivated the elite mind. “People will come to New York solely to amuse themselves, do things, not marvel at the magnitude of the city or its riches, but just eat in the restaurants, go to the discotheques, browse through the galleries.”

Horrible! Or wonderful? From the age of “Mad Men” to the age of “Sex in the City” and the terminal (?) age of “Girls,” this titillating ambivalence has fueled our content-choked culture of work, play, communications, and commerce. Try as we might to keep up, we’ve felt increasingly uncertain about our command of the technology that lurches us ever faster into a future so heavy on the activity and light on the agency. Read the rest of this essay at .

James Poulos is the author of “The Art of Being Free, out January 17 from St. Martin’s


Categories: Blog

Our Present as Predicted Half a Century Ago by Marshall McLuhan

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 01/02/2017 - 12:20pm

mm_predictions, the Manitoba news and information service, published the following comments and a short video of Marshall McLuhan on the last day of 2016. His predictions relate to space exploration, a personalized information service not unlike a combination of Google plus Wikipedia, the unharmonious global village with its loss of secrecy, racial conflict, media as extensions of humans, amplifying human powers, the idea that “the future of the future is the present”, ever-present wars, his personal habit of only reading the right-hand page of any book, which, because of the redundancy of books, he can figure out what he hadn’t read with his own “noodle”, an ability that he attributed to his ability to use his right brain hemisphere with its holistic and imaginative capacities. (Thanks to Howard Engel in Winnipeg for this.)  

Today In History – December 31

Winnipeg, Manitoba – Today In History in 1980, Marshall McLuhan died at age 69. McLuhan was educated at the University of Manitoba, as well as the University of Cambridge. McLuhan was a University of Toronto professor, writer, and communications guru. McLuhan was born July 21, 1911 in Edmonton, Alberta, and was the author of “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man,” made famous for his statement that “The Medium Is The Message.” As we think about what 2017 has in store, watch above as McLuhan makes some amazingly accurate predictions about our world.

(Source: ) For the idea of McLuhan as a Futurist, see the previous article on this blog at: And Marshall McLuhan: Prophet of the Internet Age – mm_quote_
Categories: Blog

Marshall McLuhan in the Context of the Culture & Technology of the 1960s Decade

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 12/31/2016 - 5:15pm


Culture & Technology in the 1960s Decade

The Sixties are especially significant in the kind of art-media-cultural developments we are cataloging here in this timeline. Essentially because during the 1960s, we began to develop most of the technologies that underpin our 21st century media-space. And it was the American Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) that really kick-started the building of the basic infrastructure that we inherited. ARPA’s enlightened, State-funded research programmes spanned computer-science, networking, human-computer interface design, computer-graphics, modelling and simulation at the same time that aerospace and telecoms engineers were building the communications satellite infrastructure glimpsed as early as 1945-46 by Arthur C. Clarke and the scientist/engineers at RAND Institute. In the 1960s the US Military completed several versions of the SAGE early-warning air-defense networks, and by the late Sixties, ARPA had initiated a inter-computer network in the USA that resulted in the Internet in the early 1970s. By 1968 an ARPA-funded researcher, Douglas Engelbart, using a mainframe computer linked to a dumb-terminal demonstrated how a networked personal computer might work in the 1980s… As early as 1961, the computer-pioneer Jay Wright Forrester had shown that complex systems – like factories and businesses could be modelled in a computer, and simulations created to improve management strategies. By 1971, Forrester’s Systems Dynamics approach was applied to creating World Dynamics a computer-model of the entire World and its resources. And apart from these media-technology innovations, the decade established Britain as a vibrant source of cultural content-invention – in popular music, fashion, fine arts, design, and life-style, and even more radical – the 1960s was the decade during which the counter-culture and avant garde became a dominant influenThe Sixties are especially significant in the kind of art-media-cultural developments we are cataloging here in this timeline. Essentially because during the 1960s, we began to develop most of the technologies that underpin our 21st century media-space. And it was the American Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) that really kick-started the building of the basic infrastructure that we inherited. ARPA’s enlightened, State-funded research programmes spanned computer-science, networking, human-computer interface design, computer-graphics, modelling and simulation at the same time that aerospace and telecoms engineers were building the communications satellite infrastructure glimpsed as early as 1945-46 by Arthur C. Clarke and the scientist/engineers at RAND Institute. In the 1960s the US Military completed several versions of the SAGE early-warning air-defense networks, and by the late Sixties, ARPA had initiated a inter-computer network in the USA that resulted in the Internet in the early 1970s. By 1968 an ARPA-funded researcher, Douglas Engelbart, using a mainframe computer linked to a dumb-terminal demonstrated how a networked personal computer might work in the 1980s… As early as 1961, the computer-pioneer Jay Wright Forrester had shown that complex systems – like factories and businesses could be modelled in a computer, and simulations created to improve management strategies. By 1971, Forrester’s Systems Dynamics approach was applied to creating World Dynamics a computer-model of the entire World and its resources. And apart from these media-technology innovations, the decade established Britain as a vibrant source of cultural content-invention – in popular music, fashion, fine arts, design, and life-style, and even more radical – the 1960s was the decade during which the counter-culture and avant garde became a dominant influence on mass culture. The Beatles Sgt Pepper and Beach Boys Surfs Up, the 1969 Woodstock and Isle of Wight Festivals established this – and the new Hollywood adventures of Dennis Hopper, Arthur Penn, Robert Altman, Stanley Kubrick, Doug Trumbull and others proved it at the box office. Echoing the rapidity of technical developments (cataloged in Gene Youngblood’s book Expanded Cinema in 1970), and the burgeoning cultural changes of the 1960s, the arts were evolving into a kind of celebration of mixed-media as we experienced concrete poetry, happenings (algorithmic theatre), auto-destructive art, pop-art, performance art, rock music, and the rest of the counter-culture impact (drugs/long hair/burning bras etc) on mass culture. (See the Mediainspiratorium at )

There are 3 entries about Marshall McLuhan in this timeline:-

Herbert Marshall McLuhan: The Gutenberg Galaxy 1962


Click on the image to expand it to read the underlying text.

 I discovered Elizabeth Eisenstein’s encyclopedic book on the impact of Print (The Printing Press as an Agent of Change 1980) twenty years after I read McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy – but this was the book for this time, reminding us not only of the many physical cultural changes wrought by Print, but of the psychic re-orientation and wholly new methodology of thinking that it precipitated – as McLuhan explains in his Prologue, the reorientation from oral society to typographic society had profound effects, the idea of rote learning, the development of linear step by step logic, – creating the modern scientific revolution; and the leap into someone-else’s personal perspective fostering individuality, the system of visual (vanishing-point) perspective, the Renaissance as books spread knowledge throughout the West in the vernacular, outside the control of State or Church. The Gutenberg Galaxy itself provides the prologue for an understanding of how electronic media is impacting on all these aspects of our culture and our psyche. Read McLuhan’s final section: The Galaxy Reconfigured, then go on to read his Understanding Media (1963).

Herbert Marshall McLuhan: Understanding Media – The Extensions of Man 1964


Click on the image to expand it to read the underlying text.

“After three thousand years of explosion, by means of fragmentary and mechanical technologies, the Western world is imploding. During the mechanical ages we had extended our bodies in space. Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned. Rapidly we approach the final phase of the extensions of man – the technological simulation of consciousness, where the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society, much as we have already extended our senses and our nerves by the various media. Whether the extension of consciousness, so long sought by advertisers for specific products, will be a ‘good thing’ is a question that admits of a wide solution. There is little possibility of answering questions about the extensions of man without considering all of them together. Any extension, whether of skin, hand or foot, extends the whole psychic and social complex.” – Marshall McLuhan from the Introduction, Understanding Media, 1964, p11)

Marshall McLuhan + Quintin Fiore: The Medium is the Massage – An Inventory of Effects 1964


Click on the image to expand it to read the underlying text.

Categories: Blog

Recently Published Marshall McLuhan-Related Books Available Now

McLuhan Galaxy - Sat, 12/24/2016 - 7:25pm

The following publications previously announced on this blog that are available now are the following:-

Explorations: Studies in Culture & Communication, Volumes 1 to 8 (1953 – 1957)

Previously announced here with full description:

explorations_1to8Click on image for expanded view.

“Explorations: Studies in Culture and Communication, principally edited by Edmund (“Ted”) Carpenter and Marshall McLuhan, was the first postwar journal to engage directly with the new “grammars” of the mid-century new media of communication. Launched in Toronto in 1953, at the very moment that television made its national début in Canada, Explorations presented a mosaic of approaches to contemporary media culture and became the texts in which McLuhan and Carpenter first formulated their most striking insights about new media in the electric age. The extraordinary breadth of contributions to Explorations from leading thinkers across the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences makes this journal a founding publication in the now burgeoning field of media studies. Originally funded by a Ford Foundation grant, the eight co-edited issues of Explorations were issued from 1953 to 1957.      


Extended Discount Offer Until January 7, 2017:-

  • Individual Volumes Sold Directly By the Publisher at 40% off List (retail) Price: USE Code EXPL2016
  • When Buying the Full 8-Volume Set: Use Code: EXPLORE8

Order from Wipf & Stock Publishers:  *  *  (541)344-1528


Marshall McLuhan: On the Nature of Media Essays, 1952 – 1978

Edited by Richard Cavell


Media studies have been catching up with McLuhan over the last 50 years. These essays are drawn from the most productive quarter-century of his career (1952-1978), and demonstrate his abiding interest in the materiality of mediation, from comic books to fashion, from technology to biology. Anchoring these essays are four meditations on the work of his great predecessor, Harold Adams Innis, who first proposed the centrality of mediation to every facet of our daily lives. McLuhan took this task literally; rejecting the specialist approach of academic study, he published in mainstream magazines such as Look and Harper’s Bazaar on topics such as sexuality and the fashion industry, in each case bringing to these topics insights that remain startlingly fresh. The essays offer a rare glimpse into a great mind as it works out the implications of the effects of media not only on what we know but on how we are coming to understand our being. (Source: )

Published by Gingko Press  –  196 pages  –  ISBN: 978-1-58423-582-8  –  US $19.95

Categories: Blog

How to Become a Famous Media Scholar: The Case of Marshall McLuhan

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 12/20/2016 - 10:48pm


Saturday Review Cover – March 18, 1967

By Jefferson Pooley

WHEN MARSHALL MCLUHAN published Understanding Media in 1964, the Cambridge-trained literary scholar was not well known, even inside the academy. By 1967, he was on the covers of Newsweek and the Saturday Review, and the subject of an hourlong NBC documentary, all in the same month. Over three manic years, McLuhan had shot from scholarly obscurity to klieg-lit fame.

Like most celebrity ascensions, McLuhan’s was the product of a conscious publicity campaign. Handlers, press agents, and impresarios worked together to make “McLuhan” a household name. He was packaged and promoted like a promising starlet, with multimedia gusto. Understanding Media garnered a few mainstream print reviews upon publication, but McLuhan’s break came in early 1965, when a pair of San Francisco prospectors — one, Gerald Feigen, a physician, the other, Howard Gossage, an ad-agency executive — “discovered” McLuhan and promptly arranged to visit the Canadian in Toronto. Feigen and Gossage were self-fashioned avant-gardists, using profits from their business consulting firm for “genius scouting”; the doctor read Understanding Media and alerted his partner. Together they plotted a full-fledged publicity rollout, starting with cocktail parties in New York City with media and publishing figures. The pair staged a weeklong “McLuhan Festival” that summer, with nightly parties and a rotating cast of ad executives, newspaper editors, mayoral aides, and business leaders in attendance.

Tom Wolfe, not yet famous as a prophet of the New Journalism, was there too, on assignment for the New York Herald Tribune’s Sunday magazine New York. He soon published a feverish profile (“What If He’s Right?”): “Suppose he is what he sounds like, the most important thinker since Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein, and Pavlov?” Wolfe’s lead paragraph centered on McLuhan’s business appeal:

One of the big American corporations has offered him $5000 to present a closed-circuit —ours! — television lecture on — oracle! — the ways the products in its industry will be used in the future. Even before all this, IBM, General Electric, Bell Telephone were flying McLuhan in from Toronto to New York, Pittsburgh, God knows where else, to talk to their hierarchs about … well, about whatever this unseen world of electronic environments that only he sees fully is all about.

In late 1965, the same month that Wolfe’s piece appeared, Harper’s ran its own spread on “Canada’s Intellectual Comet.” The media sluice gates had opened. Over the next two years, extended profiles of McLuhan were published by Fortune, MacLean’s, the Saturday Review, Esquire, Newsweek, and the New York Times Magazine. McLuhan himself wrote articles for, or sat for interviews with, TV Guide, Family Circle, Mademoiselle, Look, Vogue, McCall’s, and Glamour. He appeared for lengthy segments on the BBC, NBC, CBC, NPR, and the Voice of America. The New Yorker ran its first cartoon on him (“You see, Dad, Professor McLuhan says…”), and a version of McLuhan’s new book, The Medium is the Massage, was released as an audio LP by CBS Records, the same month (March 1967) as the Newsweek cover and NBC documentary. McLuhan was famous.………………..


McLuhan’s medium-is-the-message formalism has indeed provoked lots of important work in media studies. He’s the fountainhead for the modish “German media theory” that’s gaining fast syllabus traction in the English-speaking academy. The most interesting American media thinker, John Durham Peters, credits McLuhan as an “unmissable destination for media theorists.” In some ways, though, McLuhan was more a product of the media culture than its student. He seduced Esquire and the ad men (and later Wired) because what he had to say resonated with Americans already primed for the good news about technology. That’s no reason to stop reading him: McLuhan’s probes, taken as truth-indifferent provocations, really are good to think with. It’s just that the man — rewarded for closeting his gloom — is more instructive than his books. (Read the full article at )

 Jefferson Pooley is associate professor of media and communication at Muhlenberg College and author of “James W. Carey and Communication Research: Reputation at the University’s Margins”.


Newsweek Cover, March 6, 1967 & Understanding Media (1964)

Categories: Blog

Ted Carpenter’s Oh, What a Blow That Phantom Gave Me! Book (1972) & Film (2003)

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 12/14/2016 - 5:55pm


KIRKUS REVIEW of the book, published by Holt, Rinehart & Winston of Canada in 1972 (April 2, 1973) – Carpenter, a one-time Marshall McLuhan associate (the two jointly edited Explorations in Communications, 1960), explores the impact of media, both visual and acoustic, on preliterate peoples — Eskimos and New Guinea tribesmen being among those to whom he has introduced the printed word, the mirror, the Polaroid camera and the tape recorder. The effect, says Carpenter, is staggering: “I think media are so powerful that they swallow cultures,” encircling and destroying old environments, eroding and dissolving cultural identity. Citing his own experiences Carpenter tells of the stunning psychological disorientation he has witnessed among men who have just learned to write their names, heard their voices coming from a tape deck or seen their photograph for the first time; staring into the lens of a camera “the terror in their eyes is the terror of being recognized as individuals” — for the first time each man saw himself and his environment “and saw them as separable.” Unlike McLuhan, Carpenter is leery of “hot” media and openly biased toward the visual: Euclidian space, three-dimensionality, the phonetic alphabet are for him inexorably linked to the development of Western Civilization and its characteristic patterns — lineality, causality, temporality, etc. Thus the ubiquitous use of radio in New Guinea alarms him. Radio is magic; it reinforces the separation of spirit and flesh hitherto confined to dream-myth rituals and ceremonials. He worries about its propaganda potential noting that in North Africa and Indonesia it has already been used to break down traditional tribal groupings, “building nationalism to a feverish pitch and creating unreasonable national goals.” This sometimes smacks of Western paternalism but Carpenter pleads that no technology is neutral; the notion that electronics can simply be used to dispense information is folly; the medium is indeed the message. Some of his recommendations (government sponsored chess, crossword puzzles and “huge mirrors erected in public places”) will make you blink but his repeated examples of media-induced distortions of human behavior are interesting enough to galvanize attention and draw feedback. (Source: )


THE FILM (2003) by John Bishop & Harald Prins – Oh, What a Blow That Phantom Gave Me! returns Edmund Carpenter’s visionary work to the center of visual anthropology and media ecology. A maverick who explored the borderlands between ethnography and media over fifty years, Carpenter looked at the revolutionary impact of film and photography on tribal peoples. He opened the Pandora’s box of electronic media with delight and horror, embracing it even as he recoiled from its omnipotence. The documentary dives into the tensions between art and anthropology, film and culture. Using extensive interviews with Carpenter and footage from his fieldwork, the film evokes the insights and ironies of his classic book of the same name. He comments on his wide-ranging fieldwork in the Canadian Arctic and Papua New Guinea, concepts of authenticity and truth in media and art, the relationship between anthropology and surrealism, and the impossibility of preserving culture. Much of the film is built around his 1969-70 New Guinea footage, never seen before, which includes a riveting scene of an Upper Sepik River tribal initiation in which a crocodile skin pattern is cut into the initiate’s skin. Coinciding with the current McLuhan renaissance, Carpenter is now being claimed as a pioneer in the emerging field of Media Ecology, and his once-exotic ideas about electronic media seem perfectly obvious in light of the World Wide Web. It captures that moment in anthropology when exploring the many ways media transform cultures was fresh and alive and hold promise for a new generation. (Source: )

Kandangan Initiation – 5-minute excerpt from the film:-

An Annotated transcript of the film (PDF):

See also on this blog: 

NY Times Obituary: Edmund Carpenter, Archaelogist & Anthropologist:

Lance Strate’s Reflections on the Passing of Ted Carpenter:

Categories: Blog

Call for Papers: The 18th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association, Saint Mary’s College Of California, June 2017

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 12/09/2016 - 7:14pm

CALL FOR PAPERS: The 18th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association

Technology, Spirituality, Ecology

 Saint Mary’s College Of California

JUNE 22-25, 2017

Saint Mary’s College of California is proud to host the 18th annual convention of the Media Ecology Association (MEA). Founded in 1863, Saint Mary’s is one of the oldest colleges in the western U.S. with the original location in San Francisco and now located on a 420-acre campus in the Moraga Valley, 20 miles east of San Francisco. The convention will be held from June 22 through 25, 2017.

Media Ecology is a wide tent whose history, perspectives, and scholarly interests incorporate a broad array of academic and professional disciplines focusing on “the study of media environments and the idea that technology and techniques, modes of information and codes of communication play a leading role in human affairs” (Lance Strate, 1999). This interdisciplinary approach towards the exploration of media as environments fosters a rich discourse of investigation, and each MEA convention provides a unique opportunity for academics and professionals to come together in a relaxed, convivial and intimate environment that encourages deep conversations alongside activities that encourage friendship and fun.

The theme for the 18th annual MEA Convention is Technology, Spirituality, Ecology.  This tri-part theme provides a confluence of topics that represent major global concerns in the contemporary age. This is probably best articulated in the papal encyclical from Pope Francis, Laudato Si, when he stated that “when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature” (para. 47).

With this as context, we invite paper and panel proposals that address one or more of the three core themes. Although we encourage submissions that touch upon or align with, the convention theme, papers, abstracts, and panel proposal submissions from all areas of Media Ecology are welcome. A maximum of two submissions per author will be accepted. Authors who wish their papers to be considered for the Top Paper or Top Student Paper award must indicate this on their submission(s). The top papers will be published in Explorations in Media Ecology. All submissions will be acknowledged. The language of the convention is English.

Please submit all papers, panels, and proposals to the convention coordinator Lori Erokan at <>.

Submission deadline: January 15, 2017

Questions can be sent to the Convention Chair, Ed Tywoniak at <>.

Guidelines for Submission

For manuscripts eligible for MEA award submissions:

  1. Manuscripts should be 4,000-6,000 words (approximately 15 to 25 double-spaced pages)
  2. Include a cover page (or e-submission page) with your academic or professional
    affiliation and other contact information.
  3. Include a 150 words abstract, with the title. Use APA, MLA or Chicago style.
  4. Papers should be written in English.

For Paper and Panel Proposals:

  1. Include title, 250 words abstract, and contact information with your
  2. Outline, as relevant, how your paper or panel will fit with the convention theme
  3. Presenters should be prepared to deliver their papers in English.
  4. Authors with papers submitted as part of a panel proposal or as a paper proposal that wish to be considered for Top Paper or Top Student Paper must send completed paper to the convention planner by June 1, 2017.

Note that campus housing will be available at reasonable rates, along with a variety of off-campus lodging options. Specific information on housing, transportation, places of interest and other logistics will be available shortly on the convention website and the official MEA website.

For more on the Media Ecology Association, visit


Categories: Blog

McLuhan Centre Fall Program: Monday Night Seminar on Data Ethics, December 12

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 11:52am

New Coach Hose

Monday Night Seminar: Data Ethics

LOCATION: McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, 39A Queens Park Crescent                       East off 121 St. Joseph St., Toronto, ON M5S 2C3   View Map

Monday Night Seminar, Monday, December 14th, 6:00 PM

 With Ann Cavoukian, Three-term Privacy Commissioner of Ontario; Executive Director of the Privacy & Big Data Institute at Ryerson University;

and Milton Friesen, program director Social Cities at Cardus and Steering Committee of the Thriving Cities Project at the University of Virginia.

Moderator: Paolo Granata


Ann Cavoukian. Appointed as the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada in 1997, Dr. Ann Cavoukian served for an unprecedented three terms as Commissioner. In that time, she elevated the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner from a novice regulatory body to a first-class agency, known around the world for its cutting edge innovation and leadership. Dr. Cavoukian is best known for her creation of Privacy by Design – unanimously adopted as an international framework for privacy and data protection in 2010; now translated into 38 languages. As of July 1, 2014, she began a new position at Ryerson University as the Executive Director of the Privacy and Big Data Institute – Where Big Data meets Big Privacy.

Milton Friesen is a member of the think tank Cardus and is considered one of Canada’s leading thinkers in the area of social capital and its impact on neighbourhood development. Some of his project work has included creative team leadership, undergraduate teaching, marketing communications, editing, writing, interviewing, political campaign development, web strategies and content development.



Categories: Blog

The Medium is the Massage Audio Version (LP 1968)

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 6:28pm


When Marshall McLuhan proposed his idea to create an audio companion piece to his landmark 1967 book The Medium is the Massage, no one quite knew what to expect. The book itself brilliantly captured McLuhan’s theories on media and technology, arguing that the medium by which information is transferred to people was more important than the actual content being relayed. McLuhan hoped that an audio recording would help give greater depth to his theories, and in the late 1960s he and producer John Simon went to work on a record of the same name. Using audio clips of McLuhan speaking, often interrupted by discordant sounds and other voices interjecting, they created a thought-provoking, sometimes whimsical patchwork of sounds and ideas that illustrated the complex relationship between people, media, and technology. Over 40 years since its release, The Medium is the Massage continues to challenge listeners to think about media and communications in new ways. (Source: )

The Medium is the Massage

1. Side A

2. Side B

Tracks 1-2 From the LP “The Medium is the Massage”
(Columbia Records, late 1960s)

The Medium is the Massage; with Marshall McLuhan.
Long-Playing Record 1968.
Produced by John Simon.
Conceived and co-ordinated by Jerome Agel.
Written by Marshall McLuhan, Quentin Fiore, and Jerome Agel.
Columbia CS 9501, CL2701.

The Medium is the Massage From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects is a book co-created by media analyst Marshall McLuhan and graphic designer Quentin Fiore, and coordinated by Jerome Agel. It was published by Bantam books in 1967 and became a bestseller and a cult classic.

The book itself is 160 pages in length and composed in an experimental, collage style with text superimposed on visual elements and vice versa. Some pages are printed backwards and are meant to be read in a mirror (see mirror writing). Some are intentionally left blank. Most contain photographs and images both modern and historic, juxtaposed in startling ways.

The book was intended to make McLuhan’s philosophy of media, considered by some incomprehensible and esoteric, more accessible to a wider readership through the use of visual metaphor and sparse text. In its artistic approach it is considered cutting edge, even by today’s standards.

The book’s title is actually a mistake according to McLuhans’ son, Eric. The actual title was “The Medium is the Message” but it came back from the printer with the first “e” in message misprinted as an “a”. McLuhan is said to have thought the mistake to be supportive of the point he was trying to make in the book and decided to leave it be. Later readings have interpreted the word in the title as a pun meaning alternately “massage, “message,” and “mass age“. Its message, broadly speaking, is that historical changes in communications and craft media change human consciousness, and that modern electronics are bringing humanity full circle to an industrial analogue of tribal mentality, what he termed “the global village”. By erasing borders and dissolving information boundaries, electronic telecommunications are fated to render traditional social structures like the Nation state and the University irrelevant. Prejudice and oppression are also doomed by the unstoppable pressure of instant, global communication.

While today it looks like a black and white copy of Wired magazine, and its prose reads more or less like boilerplate for any of the heady techno-utopian pronouncements of the 1990s, it should be noted that it presaged the development of the original ARPANET by two years, and preceded the widespread civilian use of the Internet by almost twenty. For this and other reasons McLuhan is often given the moniker “prophet.”

There is also an LP based on this book, put out by Columbia Records in the late 60s and produced by John Simon, but otherwise keeping the same credits as the book.

You don’t have to buy the LP or CD version because it is freely available online on YouTube and at

Addendum: Quotes from the Audio Version of The Medium is the Massage:

Categories: Blog

A Presentation by the Marshall McLuhan Award Winner for Investigative Journalism (2016) on December 1

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 11:43pm


Join us Thursday DEC 1st, 2016, 6:00 PM (at the McLuhan Centre)

The Marshall McLuhan Award for Investigative Journalism

With Gigi Grande, news editor and presenter of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation (recipient 2016).
Moderator: Bob Logan

A journalist for almost twenty years now, Ms. Grande is currently a correspondent for ABS-CBN’s Investigative Research group, responsible for producing in-depth news reports for the network’s various news platforms. She is also the anchor of The World Tonight Saturday and News Now on the ABS-CBN News Channel. 

She won the McLuhan Fellowship for her excellent reportage of the issues surrounding the Philippine national elections early this year. As an editor, she is also tasked to mentor and edit stories of reporters who contribute investigative reports. She had also managed a team of reporters covering the various political and Cabinet beats. She graduated with a degree in Tourism from the University of the Philippines.

For her presentation, she has chosen the topic: “Journalism in Challenging Times: Media as guardians of democracy and watchdog of society.” For decades, the Philippine media has been called the freest in Asia, carving its place as the guardians of democracy and the watchdog of society. But are times changing? Gigi Grande talks about journalism under the new political leadership.

Register Now The event is free and open to the public. Please be reminded that space is limited and your registration is a commitment to attend the event.

Read more about Gigi Grande of ABS-CBN is the 2016 Marshall McLuhan Fellow, Philippines

Categories: Blog

When Tools Shape You

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 10:53pm
November 23, 2016 –  By

The weaponized form of McLuhan’s famous phrase the medium is the message is the phrase, first we shape our tools, then our tools shape us (due to to McLuhan’s friend John Culkin). I have come to prefer this form of the idea, and my favorite motif for it is Doc Ock, the Marvel super-villain.


Doc Ock’s artificially intelligent arms fuse to his brain stem in a reactor accident. In the movie version, the intelligence in the arms alters his behavior by making lower-level brain functions, such as emotional self-regulation, more powerful and volatile. The character backstory suggests a personality — a blue-collar nerd bullied as a schoolkid — that was already primed for destabilization by the usual sort of super-villain narcissistic wound. The accident alters the balance of power between his higher-level brain functions, and the hardware-extended lower-level brain functions. In the Doc Ock story, first we shape our tools, then our tools shape us captures the adversarial coupling between medium and message-sender.

The weaker form of McLuhan’s idea suggests that media select messages rather than the other way around: paper selects for formal communication, email selects for informal communication, 4chan selects for trolling. The stronger form suggests that when there is a conflict between medium and message, the medium wins. A formal communication intent naturally acquires informal overtones if it ends up as an email, memetic overtones if it ends up as a 4chan message.

Culkin’s form is the strongest. It suggests that the medium reshapes the principal crafting the message. The Doc Ock motif suggests why. There is no such thing as a dumb agent. All media have at least weak, latent, distributed intelligence. Intelligence that can accumulate power, exhibit agency, and contend for control.

The most familiar example of this effect is in organizational behavior, captured in an extension to Alfred Chandler’s famous observation that structure follows strategy. That becomes first structure follows strategy, then strategy follows structure. The explicit form is Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy: in a mature organization, agent goals trump principal goals.

A subtler, less familiar example is the philosophical idea that in any master-slave relationship, the slave can self-actualize through labor. In practice, this happens only when the slave has some freedom above absolute wretchedness, with sufficient cognitive surplus to turn learning from labor into political leverage.

In all such examples, the mechanism is the same. A seemingly powerless and dumb agent, by virtue of having privileged access to information and organizational operations, can become the principal by converting growing tacit knowledge of reality into consciously exercised political leverage.

The idea sheds light on why we are instinctively concerned about the Trump administration-in-waiting. While it is plausible, indeed probable, that Trump’s own ideological postures are merely expedient responses to the needs of the moment, the same cannot be said of many of his agents-in-waiting, whether acknowledged or not. They are tools at the moment, being shaped to the will of a victor. Unfortunately, they can easily go from being shaped to doing the shaping.


See also on this blog “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us” at


Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times (1936) – “First we shape our tools, then our tools shape us.”

Categories: Blog

McLuhan Salon #2: The Medium & the Light: Spirituality in the Global Theatre, December 8

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 11:08pm


The Medium and the Light: Spirituality in the Global Theatre

In collaboration with St. Paul’s Bloor Street

With Randy Boyagoda, University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto; Charles Falzon, Ryerson University; Anna-Liza Kozma, CBC.

Writer, critic and scholar Randy Boyagoda is the Principal and Vice-President of the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, and Professor in the English Department. He also teaches in the Faculty of Arts and Science’s Christianity and Culture program, and holds the inaugural Basilian Chair in Christianity, Arts, and Letters at the University of St. Michael’s College. The author of four books – two novels, a biography, and a scholarly monograph – he regularly contributes essays, reviews and opinions to publications including The New York Times, Guardian, and Financial Times (UK), in addition to appearing frequently on CBC Radio. He also serves as the President of PEN Canada, the writers’ organization that celebrates literature, defends freedom of expression, and aids writers in peril.

Charles Falzon. An international media and entertainment executive, educator and cultural strategy leader, Charles is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD) at Ryerson University, home to nine of the country’s leading schools in media and creative industries. In this role, he is a central figure in Ryerson’s curricular innovation, entrepreneurship education and city-building mission, with a focus on maximizing the impact of the creative industries as a catalyst for collaboration, innovation and civic engagement. Charles’ vision for a stronger cultural sector is informed by 30 years at the helm of public and private companies in media production, media distribution, book publishing, theme parks and live entertainment.

Anna-Liza Kozma trained at the BBC and has worked at CBC Radio as a staff producer for more than twenty years. She has been a syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune and columnist for Her work on religion, current affairs and women`s issues has been published in books, journals and newspapers in Canada, the US and England. She holds a BA Honours in Media Studies from the Polytechnic of Central London (University of Westminster) and an MA in English Literature from the University of Toronto. She now lurks as producer of CBC Radio’s national current affairs phone-in,Cross Country Checkup and is a Visiting Fellow at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto.

DATE AND TIME: Thursdday, 8 December, 2016   –   7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST  Add to Calendar

LOCATION: St. Paul’s Bloor Street, 227 Bloor Street East, South side of Bloor Street East, equidistant between Yonge/Bloor and Sherbourne stations. Toronto, ON M4W 1C8.  View Map



St. Paul’s, Bloor Street, Toronto


Categories: Blog

Artists as Distant Early Warning Systems

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 2:09pm

picassochagall Picasso & Chagall

The Artist as Distant Early Warning System (2005)

When multimedia artist Laurie Anderson performed recently in Vancouver, she mused how life is often like bad art. Characters come and go and never return. The plot changes randomly. Entire themes are abandoned halfway through. Unlike art, life’s point of view is always first person singular, in the present tense. (And usually a tense present.)

So one big purpose of art, for both the creator and the audience, is to give life the form it often lacks. Any artist worth his or her salt hopes to make a mark, to rise above mere trends, even if that expectation is something of a tall order in a culture with the attention span of a ferret on crystal meth.

Being ahead of your time has its down-side, evidenced by the struggling artist’s steady diet of Kraft dinner and humble pie. Prophets are rarely welcome in their own age – partly because of their habit of figuring out something stinks before the rest of us have even had a whiff. The creative contributor to culture has been compared to a “canary in a coal mine,” a reference to miners bringing the birds down coal shafts because of their sensitivity to toxic gasses such as carbon monoxide. Any signs of distress from the canaries was a clear sign that conditions were unsafe and the miners should evacuate.

Canadian media guru Marshall McLuhan offered a different metaphor with a similar point. “I think of art, at its most significant, as a DEW line, a Distant Early Warning system that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it,” he wrote in the sixties. McLuhan was as much an oracle as a scholar, and it wasn’t until fairly recently that his more cryptic utterances began to make sense. A highly creative writer who refused to observe the protocols of academic writing, the University of Toronto prof was on the DEW line himself.

Sometimes it seems as if artists aren’t just registering seismic trends with their sensitive equipment, they are remote-viewing the future – or even conjuring it into being. “It is well known that art will often – for example, in pictures – precede the perceptible reality by years,” wrote the philosopher Walter Benjamin in the 1930s. “It was possible to see streets or rooms (in paintings) that show all sorts of fiery colors long before technology, by means of illuminated signs and other arrangements, actually set them under such a light. Whoever understands how to read these semaphores in advance not only knows about currents in the arts but also about legal codes, wars and revolutions.”

The stuff of today’s headlines is the content of yesterday’s canvases, films, novels, and music. Fear over mutated viruses? Check out either Michael Crichton’s novel or film The Andromeda Strain from three decades earlier. Frankenstein scenarios from genetically modified organisms? That’s a whole subgenre of bio-horror, ranging from to Jules Verne’s The Island of Doctor Moreau to Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. Computer age dystopias, with humans going cyber? The flesh-made-weird paintings of Hans Giger have combined machinery with biology for years, decorating rock album jackets and inspiring director Ridley Scott’s Aliens film series. Domestic surveillance and virtual worlds run amok? Pick up any of Philip K. Dick’s novels from decades back for a possible preview of a reality we’re building with our technical necromancy. Or go see the relatively recent films that were based on his books, once the world caught up with him: Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report. All of these productions still seem like postcards from the future.

It’s no surprise that some artists seem to have a crystal ball, if you consider they’re sometimes responsible for entirely new idioms. These are often jarringly dissonant to the “cultured” eyes and ears of their time. Igor Stravinsky’s orchestral composition The Rite of Spring provoked riots when it was first performed in prewar Europe. The music of the Beatles was considered decadent and destructive by the balding guardians of British high culture. Today the most shocking piece of art is the contemporary protest song – shocking only in the sense that it is now so rarely heard on corporate rock radio. The music industry prefers to direct its promotional efforts on the smoothed down, processed Pablum of mega-selling boy bands and teen Stepford sirens. Programming behemoths like Clear Channel, which owns 1,200 stations in the US, prefers to not rock the boat, the vote, or anything else. But artists like Michael Franti and Green Day still get manage to get around the media matrix, which is still not completely monolithic – good stuff still trickles through.

Like the lion in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, who sang the world into existence, the best artists seem to embody the spirit of creation itself. Even comedy has its ahead-of-their-time visionaries, like Lenny Bruce, Australian Barry Humphries and the late Bill Hicks. The skill of the standup prophet is to say the unsayable, and put it such a way that repressed energy is released in laughter.

Geoff Olson      (Source: )

See also on this blog “Artists as ‘the Antennae of the Race'”:

“Distant Early Warning Line Card Deck” (1969):

dew-line3DEW Line Radar Stations



Categories: Blog

The Proverbs of St. McLuhan, Presented by Kevin Kelly

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 11/18/2016 - 8:11pm

Marshall McLuhan famously dictated much of his “writings” — his literacy began in orality — an irony that was part of his message about the new media. He would lie on a couch in his office and channel some oracle from the future while his students scribbled down his announcements. For this reason, no one really needs to read McLuhan [Disagreed. Reading him is the only way to really understand him, although watching videos of his lectures and interviews is almost equally insightful.]. Much better to hear his quotes second hand or just scan his blurbs and proverbs.


McLuhan was very religious, his variety being Catholic. He was almost priestly in an old way, like the prophesying priests of Delphi. It was in reference to his cosmic faith that at the launch of Wired magazine, I anointed him Wired’s Patron Saint in the masthead. In that same spirit I present these highlights from a few of his lesser known books as proverbs from St. McLuhan. [Obviously, Kevin Kelly has read them all, thereby undermining the facetious claim that nobody needs to read McLuhan.]

Highlights from Understanding Media

  • Man the food-gatherer reappears incongruously as information-gatherer. In this role, electronic man is no less a nomad than his paleolithic ancestors.
  • Everybody experiences far more than he understands. Yet it is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behavior.
  • It is a principal aspect of the electric age that it establishes a global network that has much of the character of our central nervous system.
  • Electric speed mingles the cultures of prehistory with the dregs of industrial marketeers, the nonliterate with the semiliterate and the postliterate. Mental breakdown of varying degrees is the very common result.
  • The American stake in literacy as a technology or uniformity applied to every level of education, government, industry, and social life is totally threatened by the electric technology.
  • Our conventional response to all media, namely that it is how they are used that counts, is the numb stance of the technological idiot.
  • In this electric age we see ourselves being translated more and more into the form of information, moving toward the technological extension of consciousness.
  • By putting our physical bodies inside our extended nervous systems, by means of electric media, we set up a dynamic by which all previous technologies — including cities — will be translated into information systems.
  • Under electric technology the entire business of man becomes learning and knowing…and all forms of wealth result from the movement of information.
  • Each new technology turns its predecessor into an art form.
  • Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world…enabling it to evolve ever new forms.
  • Except for light, all other media come in pairs, with one acting as the “content” of the other, obscuring the operation of both.
  • Electromagnetic technology requires utter human docility and quiescence of meditation such as befits an organism that now wears its brain outside its skull and its nerves outside its hide.
  • The problem of discovering occupations or employment may prove as difficult as wealth is easy.
  • Might not our current translation of our entire lives into the spiritual form of information seem to make of the entire globe, and of the human family, a single consciousness?
  • The new media and technologies by which we amplify and extend ourselves constitute a huge collective surgery carried out on the social body with complete disregard for antiseptics.
  • What would happen if art were suddenly seen for what it is, namely, exact information of how to rearrange one’s psyche in order to anticipate the next blow from our own extended faculties?
  • Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left.
  • The implosion of electric energy in our century cannot be met by explosion or expansion, but it can be met by decentralism and the flexibility of multiple small centers.
  • Computers hold out the promise…to bypass languages in favor of general cosmic consciousness.
  • Electric speeds create centers everywhere…This is the new world of the global village.
  • Today the acceleration tends to be total, and thus ends space as the main factor in social arrangements.
  • War is never anything less than accelerated technological change.
  • Now that man has extended his central nervous system by electric technology, the field of battle has shifted to mental image making and breaking, both in war and in business.
  • Print gave to men the concept of indefinite repetition so necessary to the mathematical concept of infinity. The same Gutenberg fact of uniform, continuous, and indefinitely repeatable bits inspired also the related concept of the infinitesimal calculus.
  • “Money talks” because money is a metaphor.
  • The clock dragged man out of the world of seasonal rhythms and recurrence, as effectively as the alphabet had released him from the magical resonance of the spoken word and the tribal trap.
  • Primitive man lived in a much more tyrannical cosmic machine than Western literate man has ever invented.
  • The world of the ear is more embracing and inclusive than that of the eye can ever be.
  • The book was the first teaching machine and also the first mass-produced commodity.
  • Ads are news. What is wrong with them is that they are always good news. In order to balance off the effect and to sell good news, it is necessary for newspapers and television to have a lot of bad news.
  • The social practices of one generation tend to get codified into the “game” of the next.
  • There is a desperate need for games in a highly specialized industrial culture, since they are the only forms of art accessible to many minds.
  • Electricity is only incidentally visual and auditory; it is primarily tactile.
  • The “human interest” dimension is simply that of immediacy of participation in the experience of others that occurs with instant information.
  • The telephone is a participant form that demands a partner. Any literate man resents such a heavy demand for his total attention, because he has long been accustomed to fragmentary attention.
  • The telephone: speech without walls. The phonograph: music hall without walls. The photograph: museum without walls. The electric light: space without walls. The movie, radio, and TV: classroom without walls.
  • Just as we now try to control atom-bomb fallout, so we will one day try to control media fallout. Education will become recognized as civil defense against media fallout.
  • With TV the viewer is the screen.
  • Electric persuasion by photo and movie and TV works by dunking entire populations in new imagery.
  • With instant electric technology, the globe itself can never again be more than a village.
  • The future of work consists of learning a living.

Highlights from Culture is Our Business

  • Privacy invasion is now one of our biggest knowledge industries.
  • The great corporations are new tribal families.

From Gutenberg Galaxy

  • Instead of tending toward a vast Alexandrian library the world has become a computer, an electronic brain.
  • As our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother goes inside.
  • Terror is the normal state of any oral society, for in it everything affects everything all the time.

Source: The Technium


Kevin Kelly in March 2016.


Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He co-founded Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor for its first seven years. His new book for Viking/Penguin is called The Inevitable, with a publication date of June 6, 2016. He is also founding editor and co-publisher of the popular Cool Tools website, which has been reviewing tools daily since 2003. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. He co-founded the ongoing Hackers’ Conference, and was involved with the launch of the WELL, a pioneering online service started in 1985. His books include the best-selling New Rules for the New Economythe classic book on decentralized emergent systems, Out of Control, a graphic novel about robots and angels, The Silver Cord, an oversize catalog of the best of Cool Tools, and his summary theory of technology in What Technology Wants (2010).

A longer Bio is available here

Categories: Blog

A Review of Harold Innis’s History of Communications: Paper & Printing- Antiquity to Early Modernity (2015)

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 11/15/2016 - 3:27pm


By Phil A. Rose, McMaster University

HAROLD INNIS’S HISTORY OF COMMUNICATIONS: PAPER & PRINTING — ANTIQUITY TO EARLY MODERNITY. Edited by William J. Buxton, Michael R. Cheney, & Paul Heyer. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. 185 pp. ISBN: 9781442243385.

With their recently published version of Harold Innis’s History of Communications: Paper and Printing — Antiquity to Early Modernity, editors William Buxton, Michael Cheney, and Paul Heyer provide an excellent reminder of the tragedy of the premature demise of Harold Innis. Originally subtitled An Incomplete and Unrevised Manuscript, the History of Communications is a project that Innis assembled during the last dozen or so years of his life. As John Durham Peters notes, contributing a foreword to the volume, the manuscript has attained a near legendary status among Innis scholars. Consequently, its being published, in any format at all for the first time, has brought into broader light some of what we might have expected from Innis had he lived beyond the meager 58 years he was allotted. Apparently totalling about 1,400 pages in length and going back approximately to 1500 BC with ancient India and China, the editors, in their introduction, draw our attention to the momentous scholarly significance of Innis’s formerly unpublished work: namely, that it very likely constitutes the first true inroads ever made into the history of communications as a field and topic of study.

Noting the overlapping territory with Innis’s monumental Empire and Communications (1950), Buxton, Cheney, and Heyer point out that History doubtless provided that text with some of its source material, contrary to what has become the established view within Innis scholarship that it had followed as outtakes of that classic work. Rather than being framed around civilizations, however, the incomplete and unpublished “History” manuscript was organizing its investigation around types of media, and, accordingly, included much greater textured detail in that regard.

Recounting that the first three chapters were meant to move from the Near East to Europe and to focus on the materials on which texts were written (specifically clay, papyrus, and parchment), our editorial trio delineates how Innis’s overall intention was to trace the history of writing materials up to and including the twentieth century. With the remainder of the volume outlining how paper migrated from China to Europe, they emphasize Innis’s analysis of how this process thus “set the stage for the epic battle between parchment and paper, culminating in the triumph of paper culture, as linked to printing and publishing, as well as a host of institutions and practices they underpinned” (p. 4). Paper was a revolutionary medium, and Buxton, Cheney, and Heyer keenly elucidate how Innis’s fascinating project reflects a continuation of his earlier emphasis on staples, typically things like the fur trade and the cod fisheries, and, here, rooted in his focus on the pulp and paper industry.

Shortly after Innis’s death, an edited version of this project was submitted to the University of Toronto Press but was rejected as a result of the poor reviews it garnered, claiming that it amounted basically to reading notes that would constitute plagiarism should they be published. Alexander John Watson (2007) upholds this interpretation, but this is an account that excludes any reference to previous versions of the manuscript identified in the Innis Archives at the University of Toronto. Buxton, Cheney, and Heyer have likewise edited and significantly “cleaned up” the text, and Innis originally intended the three chapters included in this volume to be Chapters Four, Five, and Six of a much larger work. Consecutively titled “The Coming of Paper,” “Printing in the 15th Century,” and “Printing in the 16th Century,” these chapters address topics that are not significantly dealt with elsewhere, including the effects on Elizabethan book markets of the uncertainty of patronage, and questions about power, class, and labour struggles within the early French paper industry, issues that tend to be left unaddressed in Innis’s political-economic analyses.

As Innis traces the spread of the making of paper and the paper industry from China through Turkestan, Baghdad, Tihama, Damascus, Sicily, and Fez, to what is now modern Spain, France, Italy, and Germany, he also explores topics such as the use of ink, movable type, and the distribution of both paper and books. The editors summarize the mammoth media ecological dimensions of the project, and the way that Innis clarifies how paper and printing were linked to a range of phenomena, “including language, religion, printed currency, public opinion, literature, and education” (p. 7). Summarizing the developments that paper helped to spawn, and that Innis here explores, they include “credit, monopolized lending, a growing interest in antiquity, the revival of Roman law, constitutionalism, the accessing of scriptures, the preserving of Latin, the subverting of feudal law, the reforming of the Church, the Protestant revolt, the strengthening of vulgate languages, and the beginning of the Renaissance” (p. 8).

In this regard, the editors point out how History now takes its place as the first among a number of important texts concerned with the role of print in early modernity that emerged in the wake of Innis’s death, including Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin’s The Coming of the Book (1958), Marshall McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1962), and the late Elizabeth Eisenstein’s The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early Modern Europe (1978). Some of the interesting historical details that Innis notes in his work include the introduction of cursive handwriting at the end of the 11th century, along with the recognition of how writing’s development on a large scale assumed the existence of a cheaper material than parchment, which until the late 13th century was very expensive. Though paper was introduced generally in the fourteenth century, Innis notes that it was not a serious rival to parchment until the fifteenth century, when the paper industry had also reached Germany. And there, in 1534, Martin Luther published the first German edition of the entire Scriptures within one volume.

Looking ahead to the soon-to-be-released follow-up to this volume, Buxton, Cheney, and Heyer have said that they are publishing Innis’s hitherto unpublished and now missing MA thesis The Returned Soldier (1918), along with his incomplete memoir (which goes only up to 1922) and some of his central correspondence, including letters sent home from Toronto to Otterville that describe his agony and culture shock, when he first set off to McMaster University, back in the days before McMaster moved its operations from Toronto to Hamilton.

Fittingly, the editors refer to the chapters they have included here as Innis’s analysis of “the paper and printing complex.” And they suggest that what Innis accomplishes in this work is to probe its impacts in Asia and Europe “upon politics, culture, and economics” (p. 8). As it so happens, not least of these impacts were those in France, where, as Innis informs us, new regulations apparently exempted booksellers from military services; as an alternative, however, they were “compelled to light the public lanterns each evening to 1640” (p. 90). Though Innis never sounds off on the complexion of this arrangement, we could predict—given his own traumatic experience of the First World War—that he may have viewed this as a reasonable compromise.

Reference: Watson, Alexander John. (2007). Marginal man: The dark vision of Harold Innis. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

Published in: ROSE, Phil A. Harold Innis’s History of Communications: Paper and Printing – Antiquity to Early Modernity. Canadian Journal of Communication, [S.l.], v. 41, n. 4, nov. 2016. ISSN 1499-6642. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 15 Nov. 2016.

Source (from which a PDF of this review can be downloaded):

For publication details see the original announcement of this book on this blog at

innis3 Harold Adams Innis (1894 – 1952)

Categories: Blog

McLuhan Centre Fall Program: Monday Night Seminars, November 14 & 21; December 12, 2016

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 11/09/2016 - 8:50pm

New Coach Hose

2016-17 Theme: The New Shape of Things: Big Data, Big Stories

Our theme last year was “City as Classroom” where we sought insight and experience that the city has to offer to inform and stimulate. This year we go beyond the city in exploring the extent to which McLuhan’s adage that “the medium is the message” applies to the underlying influences of our data surround and in particular “big data” that shape and influence how we see, act and grow. We seek explore data both literally and metaphorically from a variety of perspectives of science, the arts, business, industry and academe.

LOCATION: McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, 39A Queens Park CrescentEast off 121 St. Joseph St., Toronto, ON M5S 2C3   View Map

Monday Night Seminar, Monday, November 14th, 6:00 PM


With Josh Akers, Geography and Urban & Regional Studies;
Christopher Lee, University of Buffalo, Department of Art
Mita Williams, University of Windsor Information Services
Janine Marchessault, York University, Cinema and Media Studies




Monday Night Seminar, Monday, November 21st, 6:00 PM

With Douglas Rushkoff, media theorist and writer;
Ramona Pringle, Ryerson University;
Seamus Ross, University of Toronto and Visiting Professor Athens University of Economics and Business (2016)




Monday Night Seminar, Monday, December 12th, 6:00 PM



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