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Al Gore on Marshall McLuhan in The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change (2013)

McLuhan Galaxy - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 1:03pm

“For over half a century neuroscientists have known that specific neuronal pathways grow and proliferate when used, while the disuse of neuron “trees” leads to their shrinkage and gradual loss of efficacy. Even before those discoveries, McLuhan described the process metaphorically, writing that when we adapt to a new tool that extends a function previously performed by the mind alone, we gradually lose touch with our former capacity because a “built-in numbing apparatus” subtly anesthetizes us to accommodate the attachment of a mental prosthetic connecting our brains seamlessly to the enhanced capacity inherent in the new tool. (p. 48)

In Plato’s dialogues, when the Egyptian god Theuth tells one of the kings of Egypt, Thamus, that the new communications technology of  the age – writing – would allow people to remember much more than previously, the king disagreed, saying ‘It will implant forgetfulness in their souls: they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remember no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks.’

So this dynamic is hardly new. What is profoundly different about the combination of Internet access and mobile personal computing devices is that the instantaneous connection between an individual’s brain and the digital universe is so easy that a habitual reliance on external memory (or ‘exomemory’) can become an extremely common behavior. The more common this behavior becomes , the greater one comes to rely on exomemory – and the less one relies on memories stored in the brain itself.  What becomes more important instead are the ‘external marks’ referred to by Thamus 2,400 years ago. Indeed, one of the new measures of practical intelligence in the twenty-first century is the ease with which someone can quickly locate relevant information on the Internet”. (pp. 48 – 49)

  • from Gore, A. (2013). The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. New York: Random House.

On Thamus and Theuth, see:

New York Times review of The Future: 

Categories: Blog

McLuhan Centre Spring Program Week 5: Monday Night Seminar, May 2; Workshop, May 3; New Explorations Group, May 4

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 1:17pm

Winter/Spring 2016 program of events

PEOPLE ARE THE TERRITORY – How do we overcome the boundaries?

MONDAY, 2 MAY, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

With Shauna Brail, Atom Egoyan, Khalil Z. Shariff

SHAUNA BRAIL is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, at the University of Toronto Studies Program and a Research Associate in the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs. Her research lies broadly in economic geography with a focus on the social, cultural and economic changes associated with the shifting strengths of cities; her secondary research focus relates to pedagogy and learning outside the classroom. Dr. Brail was appointed as the Presidential Advisor on Urban Engagement at the University of Toronto in June 2015. @shaunabrail

ATOM EGOYAN is one of the most celebrated contemporary filmmakers on the international scene. His body of work – which includes theatre, music, and art installations – delves into issues of memory, displacement, and the impact of technology and media on modern life. Egoyan has won numerous prizes at international film festivals including the Grand Prix and International Critics Awards from the Cannes Film Festival, two Academy Award® nominations, and numerous other honours. His films have won twenty-five Genies – including three Best Film Awards – and a prize for Best International Film Adaptation from The Frankfurt Book Fair. @ TheFu l lEgoyan

KHALIL Z. SHARIFF joined Aga Khan Foundation Canada as Chief Executive Officer in August 2005. He was previously with the Toronto office of McKinsey & Company, an international management consultancy, where he advised governments, financial institutions, and health care providers on strategy, organization, and operational improvement. Mr. Shariff served on AKFC’s National Committee for five years, and has cultivated his interest in international development and
conflict resolution issues through a variety of activities. @AKFCanada

Business Without Boundaries REGISTER NOW at 


WORKSHOP – Breaking Silos to Connect City & Classroom

TUESDAY, 3 MAY, 2016, 6:00 – 9:00 PM

Christopher Penney, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
Jeff Pinto, Center for Distance Education, Athabasca University

How can the themes of “community creation” and “city as a classroom” raised during the McLuhan Centre’s Fall 2015 seminar series be extended to incorporate the student voice? This workshop will bring together representatives of U of T’s various divisions and faculties to explore the following provocations: How do we create a student-driven, interdisciplinary, creative problem solving solving laboratory at U of T? How can students help address the pressing challenges experienced by those in
the city and communities in which U of T is embedded.



NEW EXPLORATIONS GROUP – Total Posthuman: Remembering the Extreme Now

In an exploration of the persistent power of symbols, we juxtapose scenes from Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s 1977 film Our Hitler with theories from Marshall McLuhan and the Frankfurt School on the totalitarian potential of media environments. We then consider the contemporary cultural tension whereby the power of digital networks to connect humans is tempered by the tendency to recombine human “material” to give birth to the obscure yet pervasive phenomenon of the “posthuman.”

Categories: Blog

McLuhan’s Maelstrom Metaphor for Survival in Our Technological Environment

McLuhan Galaxy - Sun, 04/24/2016 - 11:55am

Artist Harry Clarke‘s 1919 illustration for “A Descent into the Maelström” by Edgar Allan Poe

From Arthur Kroker’s Technology and the Canadian Mind: Innis/McLuhan/Grant (1984), p. 62 :

“The essential aspect of McLuhan’s technological humanism is that he always remained a Catholic humanist in the Thomistic tradition: one who brought to the study of technology and culture the more ancient Catholic hope that even in a world of despair (in our “descent into the maelstrom” with Poe’s drowning sailor) that a way out of the labyrinth could be found by bringing to fruition the “reason” or “epiphany” of technological society. McLuhan’s thought often recurred to the sense that there is an immanent moment of “reason” and a possible new human order in technological society which could be captured on behalf of the preservation of “civilization.””

Full text available at


An Excerpt (Last 2 Paragraphs) From “A Descent  Into the Maelstrom” by Edgar Allan Poe (1841)

Poe’s story provides McLuhan with a metaphor for saving ourselves from the maelstrom of electronic technologies and their hidden environments by using perceptional pattern recognition. The story describes how a deep sea fisherman saves himself from death, as he is sucked into a giant whirlpool or maelstrom, by observing which debris sinks or rises in the torrent of the whirlpool. Lashing himself to a water cask, the type of debris that he has seen to rise, he is lifted out of the whirlpool and is saved.

“I no longer hesitated what to do. I resolved to lash myself securely to the water cask upon which I now held, to cut it loose from the counter, and to throw myself with it into the water. I attracted my brother’s attention by signs, pointed to the floating barrels that came near us, and did everything in my power to make him understand what I was about to do. I thought at length that he comprehended my design –but, whether this was the case or not, he shook his head despairingly, and refused to move from his station by the ring-bolt. It was impossible to force him; the emergency admitted no delay; and so, with a bitter struggle, I resigned him to his fate, fastened myself to the cask by means of the lashings which secured it to the counter, and precipitated myself with it into the sea, without another moment’s hesitation.

“The result was precisely what I had hoped it might be. As it is myself who now tell you this tale –as you see that I did escape –and as you are already in possession of the mode in which this escape was effected, and must therefore anticipate all that I have farther to say –I will bring my story quickly to conclusion. It might have been an hour, or thereabout, after my quitting the smack, when, having descended to a vast distance beneath me, it made three or four wild gyrations in rapid succession, and, bearing my loved brother with it, plunged headlong, at once and forever, into the chaos of foam below. The barrel to which I was attached sunk very little farther than half the distance between the bottom of the gulf and the spot at which I leaped overboard, before a great change took place in the character of the whirlpool. The slope of the sides of the vast funnel became momently less and less steep. The gyrations of the whirl grew, gradually, less and less violent. By degrees, the froth and the rainbow disappeared, and the bottom of the gulf seemed slowly to uprise. The sky was clear, the winds had gone down, and the full moon was setting radiantly in the west, when I found myself on the surface of the ocean, in full view of the shores of Lofoden, and above the spot where the pool of the Moskoe-strom had been. It was the hour of the slack –but the sea still heaved in mountainous waves from the effects of the hurricane. I was borne violently into the channel of the Strom and in a few minutes, was hurried down the coast into the ‘grounds’ of the fishermen. A boat picked me up –exhausted from fatigue –and (now that the danger was removed) speechless from the memory of its horror. Those who drew me on board were my old mates and dally companions –but they knew me no more than they would have known a traveller from the spirit-land. My hair, which had been raven-black the day before, was as white as you see it now. They say too that the whole expression of my countenance had changed. I told them my story –they did not believe it. I now tell it to you –and I can scarcely expect you to put more faith in it than did the merry fishermen of Lofoden.

The entire story is available at .

See an essay on the technological maelstrom on this blog here: .


Categories: Blog

McLuhan Centre Spring Program Week 4: Monday Night Seminar, April 25; Video Lounge, April 26; Book Salon, April 27

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 04/21/2016 - 5:11pm

Winter/Spring 2016 program of events

BREAKDOWN AS BREAKTHROUGH – Does the Imagination Have Ethics?

MONDAY, 25 APRIL, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

With Martin Arnold, Julia Moulden, Diane Blake 

MARTIN ARNOLD is a musician based in Toronto. His notated compositions are performed nationally and internationally. Martin is also an active member of Toronto’s improvisation and experimental jazz/roots/rock communities performing on live electronics, banjo, melodica, and guitar. Martin lectures in Cultural Studies at Trent University and Art, Culture and Media, at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. He also works as a landscape gardener.

JULIA MOULDEN loves to observe: she’s the author of three books on emerging global trends and was a Huffington Post columnist for five years. Julia also loves to talk, having spoken to audiences on four continents. After travelling widely and living in three countries, she came home to Toronto. Her communications agency helps drive productivity, innovation, and growth, and she’s currently at work on her fourth book. April 2, 2016 is her 60th birthday and she’s just getting started. @JuliaMoulden

DIANE BLAKE, Founder and Lead Sponsor of Myseum of Toronto, has been a proud Torontonian since 1986. Prior to becoming an archivist, she worked in information technology, and studied at University College in London and the University of Toronto. Diane volunteers with grassroots social groups, and artistic and cultural organizations in Toronto. She is currently co-chairing the fundraising campaign to archive the historic media content of TVO. Along with her husband Stephen Smith, Diane believes the key to building a first-class city is in understanding its past.




VIDEO LOUNGE – The Medium is the Massage Film

TUESDAY, 26 APRIL, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Few people are aware that The Medium is the Massage film was produced and distributed in 1967 by McGraw-Hill Education the same year as the bestselling paperback book of the same title. The only public showing this 54 minute film appears to have had was on NBC TV, as the entry below from TV Guide indicates.



BOOK SALON: – The New Science of Communication: Reconsidering McLuhan’s
Message for our Modern Moment 
By Anthony M. Wachs – Duquesne University Press, 2015

WEDNESDAY, 27 APRIL, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

With Anthony M. Wachs, Alex Kuskis, Robert K. Logan

The New Science of Communication offers an original contribution to scholarship on McLuhan and media ecology, as scholars interested in the interactions of media with human feeling, thought, and behavior have forced modern presuppositions onto their readings of McLuhan. Wachs, however, corrects this misreading by uniquely combining communication and media, and restoring classical and medieval communication theory as an alternative to modern rationalist theories.
Anthony M. Wachs is assistant professor and director of forensics in the Department of Languages,
Literature, and Communication Studies at Northern State University.


Categories: Blog

International Conference – The Toronto School – THEN|NOW|NEXT, Oct 14-16, 2016, Toronto

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 5:43pm

    The Toronto School: Then | Now | Next international conference assembles a unique group of Canadian and international interdisciplinary experts on media, communication and culture — including researchers from humanities and social sciences, artists and leading public thinkers.



    Between the 1930s and 1970s, a community of intellectuals emerged in and around the University of Toronto, and achieved international recognition for its innovative and trans-disciplinary approaches to the evolving societal challenges.



    The Toronto School: Then | Now | Next International Conference aims to bring together international scholars to engage in dialogue on the origins, rise, decline and the rebirth of the so-called Toronto School of Communication.



    Discussion will examine the extent to which the so-called Toronto School of Communication has provided a legacy that continues to offer insight on crucial and systemic issues facing contemporary society across various disciplines.


    Theorists, experimentalists, and international scholars from diverse disciplines will share ideas, explore methods, and nurture change that challenge the way we conduct research.


    A wide range of presentation, discussion, panel, exhibition and social event.


    Preview Event

    5:00 Public Lecture & Opening Photo-Documentary Exhibition
    In Collaboration with St. Michael’s College / Kelly Library


    9:00 Opening Ceremony
    9:30 Keynote
    11:00 Coffee Break
    11:30 Plenary Panel

    1:00 Lunch

    2:00 Parallel Session #1
    3:30 Parallel Session #2
    5:00 Coffee Break
    5:30 Plenary Panel

    7:30 Welcoming Reception
    In collaboration with the Art Museum, University of Toronto Art Centre


    9:15 Greetings
    9:30 Plenary Panel
    11:00 Coffee Break
    11:30 Plenary Panel

    1:00 Lunch

    2:00 Parallel Session #3
    3:30 Parallel Session #4
    5:00 Coffee Break
    5:30 Plenary Panel

    7:30 Social Events
    In collaboration with Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, and Northrop Frye Centre.


    9:15 Greetings
    9:30 Plenary Panel
    11:00 Coffee Break
    11:30 Round Table

    1:00 Lunch

    2:00 Parallel Session #5
    3:30 Parallel Session #6
    5:00 Coffee Break
    5:30 Town Hall Meeting

    8:30 Awards Gala Dinner

    Call for Papers

    The Coach House Institute at the Faculty of Information (iSchool) University of Toronto invites proposals for the international conference “The Toronto School: Then | Now | Next”.
    Deadline for Submission: June 30, 2016


Categories: Blog

“Man Becomes the Sex Organs of the Machine World”

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 8:06pm

Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world, as the bee of the plant world, enabling it to fecundate and to evolve ever new forms. The machine world reciprocates man’s love by expediting his wishes and desires, namely, in providing him with wealth”.  – Understanding Media (1964), p. 46

By Tristan Eldritch

Marshall McLuhan remains essential reading today primarily for two reasons.The first, of course, is that he was writing for and about today way back – worlds of past tense away – in the 60s and 70s. That is to say that McLuhan, in his philosophical examination of media and technology in the age of television and space exploration, seemed to extrapolate or intuit the effects, or emotional and sociological contours and lines of force, of our current internet epoch:

“In the age of instant information man ends his job of fragmented specializing and assumes the role of information gathering. Today information gathering resumes the inclusive concept of “culture”, exactly as the primitive food-gather worked in equilibrium with his entire environment.Our quarry now, in this new nomadic and “workless” world, is knowledge and insight into the creative processes of life and society.

If the work of the city is the remaking or translating of man into a more suitable form than his nomadic ancestors achieved, then 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?”

That many passages in McLuhan seem almost uncannily to pre-empt the concerns and character of post-internet culture is a fact no less remarkable for the frequency with which it has been noted, particularly when one considers that many of us today have the sense of living in a world wholly altered from that of a mere decade or two ago. This degree of prophetic insight, not into the specific nature of the technologies themselves, but rather of the subtler social and emotional reconstituting of human nature engendered by them, is traditionally the preserve of the artist, as McLuhan himself points out:

“In the history of human culture there is no example of a conscious adjustment of the various factors of personal and social life to new extensions except in the puny and peripheral effects of artists. The artist picks up the message of cultural and technological challenge decades before its transformative impact occurs. He, then, builds models or Noah’s arks for facing the change that is at hand”.

Art retains some essential link to its deep historical or pre-historical roots, where its function was magical, visionary, and oracular. The artist, or at any rate the artist accomplished enough to warrant the mantle, actively cultivates the still mysterious skill of heightened and passive receptivity, the ability to cultivate an intuition of things distant in time and space which resembles a cultural equivalent to the “spooky action at a distance” of the new physics that perturbed Einstein so much. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from the poetry of the era or eras which directly precede it. This is perhaps why McLuhan chose a mode of writing which was as much poetic in character as analytic; here, he adopts a striking image from Samuel Butler’s satirical utopia Erewhon: Or, Over the Range:

“Physiologically, man in the normal use of technology (or his variously extended body) is perpetually modified by it and in turn finds new ways of modifying his technology. Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world, as the bee of the plant world, enabling it to fecundate and evolve ever new forms”.

McLuhan understood that electrical communication technologies were transforming the essential modes of human production and social activity into the instantaneous transfer of increasingly overwhelming volumes of visual, aural, textual, and tactile information – and that this transformation would utterly change the world in which we live – not merely in the obvious sense of altering the physical or social contours of the world, but rather in the far more profound and less visible sense of changing the dominant metaphors, sense ratios, and whole panoply of perceptual tools by which we experience, interpret, and hence define that world. McLuhan’s most significant and enduring achievement was thus not concerned simply with man’s relationship to media in the modern electrical age, but rather with our on-going relationship with tools, technology, and all mediums by which commodities, particularly ideas and information, are exchanged.

The boldness of his writing lay in its assertion these tools and media were not merely convenient adjuncts and servants to a lofty and autonomous human nature; rather, the tools and media themselves were an integral part of the crucible wherein that human nature and its underlying worldviews were formed. Beginning with language itself, no medium is the world, or even describes or represents the world in any kind of innocent or uncomplicated fashion. A speech, a painting, or a moving cine-camera, do not describe or represent the world according to some universal standard of fidelity or accuracy; rather each medium translates, limits, and alters its given subject according to certain properties intrinsic to itself. As each medium prioritises a certain sense, or a certain ratio of sense usage, it subtly engenders certain habits of mind and ways of viewing the world. Read the rest of this essay at .


Categories: Blog

The Futurist – This Spaceship Earth

McLuhan Galaxy - Fri, 04/15/2016 - 1:14pm

earth copy

By David Houle, April 8, 2016 (Thanks to Martin Speer for sharing this article)

I have often been asked how I became a futurist. A part of the answer is that, starting in my 20s, I read works by three people who, in my mind, were the greatest futurists of the last third of the 20th century: Alvin Toffler, R. Buckminster Fuller and Marshall McLuhan.

Toffler wrote “Future Shock” and “The Third Wave,” which shaped my thinking about “ages.” This led me to coin the phrase “the Shift Age” and write several books about it. Marshall McLuhan was, and still is, the greatest futurist and thinker about media. He saw things in their contextual whole. He correctly said that we don’t watch media as much as we live in media. R. Buckminster Fuller invented the geodesic dome and was a rapid-fire thinker and speaker of world renown. His two books that most affected me were “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” and “Utopia or Oblivion: the Prospects for Humanity,” both of which were written in the late 1960s.

Alvin Toffler 02.jpg Alvin Toffler (2006)

Of course, I have read dozens of other books about the future in addition to a lot of science fiction and technology books. But it is these three greats — Toffler, McLuhan and Fuller — who I have referred to as the futurists on whose shoulders I stand to look well into the 21st century.

I have the great good fortune to be futurist in residence and guest lecturer at the Ringling College of Art + Design. One of my responsibilities is to guest lecture for a variety of professors, and I found that I consistently wanted to guest lecture in professor Tim Rumage’s classes. I soon realized that Tim, the head of environmental studies at Ringling, is one of the smartest people I have ever met about Earth’s interconnectedness.

We decided, more than two years ago, to write a book about climate change. The process took much longer than expected. As time passed, we became increasingly alarmed by the feedback the planet giving humanity. The forecasts from the early 1990s about how bad climate change was going to be in 2040 were actually being manifested in 2014! This presented a problem: How could we finish the book without it being quickly out of date?

So we decided to publish a short, high-level book, readable in two to three hours, that covered the big issues about the topic and to have a companion website that could be constantly updated.

“This Spaceship Earth” was published in December.

The words of Fuller and McLuhan have stayed with me for 45 years. McLuhan said, “There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.” Fuller said: “We live on this Spaceship Earth but do not have an operating manual” and “In several decades, humanity would approach a fork in the road: utopia or oblivion.”

Buckminster Fuller and McLuhan

Buckminster Fuller & Marshall McLuhan in front of René Cera’s painting Pied Pipers All at the Coach House (Image: Dick Darrell/Getstock)

All three statements are still relevant, but the one that has altered what I now do for a living is the last one. I have spent a decade suggesting that coming transformative changes might lead humanity to utopia. After two years of research, it became clear to me that climate change was the oblivion Fuller forecast, that there may be no civilization as we know it in 2100 unless collective action is taken by 2030. I decided that it would be a dereliction of my professional duty as a futurist to not speak about climate change. But how?

McLuhan supplied the answer: We are all crew! We must think like crew, as this spaceship is the only place we have.

Climate change will, over the next 20 to 30 years, affect businesses, particularly in Sarasota, more than any other single thing. For those who face it and think and act like crew, there are huge opportunities. For those who think climate change is still politics and not physics, much will be lost. It is worth noting that in a recent poll, 65 percent of Americans said they believe climate change is real and caused by humanity.

Tim and I, along with local tech marketing entrepreneur Bob Leonard and Ringling graduate Devin Lee Ostertag, have just launched a global facing non-profit, headquartered in Sarasota to create crew consciousness. It is called and our beta website has just been launched. Please take a look, and if you would like any of us to speak to your company or a group you belong to, we will be glad to do so, for free.

I will write more about the economics, health issues and Sarasota specifics around climate change in future articles.

David Houle is a globally recognized futurist who lives part time in Sarasota. He has given speeches on six continents, written five books and is futurist in residence at the Ringling College of Art + Design. His website is (Source: )

See also Marshall McLuhan – Futurist, published on this blog:

And Marshall McLuhan: Prophet of the Internet Age –


Toffler, A. (Ed.) (1962). The Futurists. New York: Random House. Includes content by McLuhan, Toffler, Fuller and others.

Categories: Blog

McLuhan Centre Spring Program Week 3: Monday Night Seminar, April 18; Video Lounge, April 19

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 04/14/2016 - 12:53pm

Winter/Spring 2016 program of events


MONDAY, 18 APRIL, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

With Sanaa Ali-Mohammed, Greg Van Alstyne, Alessandro Ruggero

SANAA ALI-MOHAMMED is a grassroots innovator and researcher with a passion for community building and devising solutions to social exclusion in various contexts. She was on the 2015 Samara Canada Everyday Political Citizen shortlist for her role in Young, Canadian and Muslim: Making Our Ballots Count!, working with DawaNet’s Project Civic Engagement and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). Sanaa has also been a researcher with the Tessellate Institute for a number of years, studying the lived experiences of diverse groups in Canada. Her MA major research paper is an ethnographic study of women’s post-secondary education and activism in Saudi Arabia. @sancastic

GREG VAN ALSTYNE is an accomplished futurist, designer, educator and researcher with extensive experience in creative concept development, writing, visualization, art direction, and design management. His strengths include presentation, process facilitation, and team management, as well as program development, group critique, and evaluation. Greg’s career spans more than twenty-five years, including interaction, communication and exhibition design, design strategy, strategic foresight and innovation consulting. He has developed graphic, environmental and interaction design for publishers, agencies and brands in Canada, United States and Europe. @gregvan

ALESSANDRO RUGGERA received his degree in Italian literature at Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice  (1995). His teaching career began in 1996 as lecturer at the University of Prague, where he taught until 2002. He began working with the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 2008. In 2011 he became director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Addis Ababa. In 2015 he became director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Toronto. @IICToronto



VIDEO LOUNGE – Video McLuhan

A selection from a set of six video tapes gives the viewer every bit of the feeling of being with McLuhan – a rare, extremely stimulating, and sometimes frustrating experience. Written by Tom Wolfe and produced by Stephanie McLuhan-Ortved (1996). REGISTER NOW at 
Categories: Blog

Piazza McLuhan at Digifest, April 28 – 30, 2016, Toronto

McLuhan Galaxy - Wed, 04/13/2016 - 10:58am

Piazza McLuhan Digifest 2016

April 28 – 30, 2016 at Corus Quay, Toronto

Explore the legacy of Canada’s very own Marshall McLuhan at Digifest!

Digifest and the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology present the Piazza McLuhan. The Piazza is a gathering place for Digifest attendees to experience and explore the changing and confounding world around us built on the legacy of Marshall McLuhan.

Marshall McLuhan was one of the most charismatic, controversial and original thinkers of our time whose remarkable perception propelled him onto the international stage. Marshall McLuhan is universally regarded as the father of communications and media studies and prophet of the information age

Students in the Interaction Design and Development as well as the Interactive Media Management programs will feature the “Interactive Bar” in the Piazza. The “Interactive Bar” will have interactive demos that feature technology in a way that will honour its past, celebrate the present and envision the future.

The McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology is an initiative of the Coach House Institute, Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, in partnership with the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto and the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology, University of Toronto, Mississauga.


Digifest is Toronto’s international festival celebrating digital creativity.

Digifest is an immersive three-day event that showcases groundbreaking creations and trending content in digital media, art, design and technology. International speakers, interactive installations and collaborative workshops all take place April 28 – 30th at the innovative Corus Quay building on Toronto’s waterfront.

The festival fosters connections by bringing together industry, academics and the public, to inspire us to think about how digital tools and technology will shape our lives and our future. From architects to app designers, creators and entrepreneurs take centre stage to share their stories and showcase the digital and technological discoveries that will re-shape some of today’s pressing challenges.

Ticket information and sales here:

See short Digifest promo video below:

Categories: Blog

McLuhan Centre Spring Program Week 2: Monday Night Seminar, April 11; Workshop, April 12; Book Salon, April 13

McLuhan Galaxy - Thu, 04/07/2016 - 4:17pm

Winter/Spring 2016 program of events

BEYOND THE BUZZ – What holds the community together?

MONDAY, 11 APRIL, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

With Don Morrison, Douglas Rushkoff, Christina Zeidler

DON MORRISON was Chief Operating Officer of Research in Motion (now known as
BlackBerry), a position he held from 2000 until his retirement in the fall of 2011. Don is currently the Chairman and Founder of New Seeds: The Thomas Merton Centre for Interreligious Dialogue here in Toronto, and the Chair of the Board of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a member of the Board of the MasterCard Foundation focused on education and financial   inclusion projects in Africa. Don was the recipient of the 2011 Human Relations Award from the Canadian Centre for Diversity.

DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF is the author of Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now as well as a dozen other bestselling books on media, technology, and culture, including Program or Be ProgrammedMedia Virus, Life Inc, the novel Ecstasy Club, and Coercion, winner of the Marshall Mcluhan Award for best media book. Winner of the Media Ecology Association’s first Neil Postman award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity, he is Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at CUNY/Queens. He wrote the graphic novels Testament and A.D.D., and made the television documentaries Generation LikeMerchants of Cool, The Persuaders, and Digital Nation. @rushkoff

CHRISTINA ZEIDLER is a film and video artist with over thirty short film and video titles in distribution, which have shown internationally at festivals and appeared on television and the web. Christina was named one of Toronto’s 10 best Filmmakers by Cameron Bailey and won the Best Canadian Media Award at the 2004 Images Film Festival. Her first feature film
“Portrait of a Serial Monogamist” (a lesbian romantic comedy about coming of middle age) will have its North American theatrical release in early 2016. As a curator and entrepreneur she is interested in building trust with cultural communities and communities of artists by creating space for people to engage in creative risk taking.This approach has informed her work as the “chief alchemist” of The Gladstone Hotel. @GladstoneHotel




Jessika Tremblay Awarded Faculty of Arts and Science Germany/Europe Fund Award for Ethnography Lab Project

TUESDAY, 12 APRIL, 6:00 – 9:00 PM

With Joshua Barker, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto
City as Subject, City as Sandbox:
How U of T’s Ethnography Lab is Embracing Toronto

The Ethnography Lab promotes ethnographic research methods and practice in the university and outside academia. Arranged in interest groups, the Lab explores the craft and impact of ethnography in the contemporary world. In this workshop, we will introduce and discuss the Ethnography Lab’s experiences developing the Kensington Market Research Project, a long-term effort by students, faculty, and community members to produce a body of rich and detailed knowledge about transformations underway in Toronto’s most celebrated multicultural heritage district.



WEDNESDAY, 13 APRIL, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

On the Nature of Media: Essays, 1952-1978
Gingko Press, 2016

With Philip Marchand, Eric McLuhan

Media studies has been catching up with McLuhan over the last 50 years. These essays are drawn from the most productive quartercentury 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. 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.


Categories: Blog

The Coach House Institute Appoints a New Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology, University of Toronto

McLuhan Galaxy - Tue, 04/05/2016 - 5:59pm

Prof Sarah Sharma of the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology (University of Toronto – Mississauga) with a graduate appointment at the Faculty of Information (St. George Campus) has been appointed Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology.  Professor Sharma’s research on technology and culture extends the Toronto School into new conceptual and empirical terrain wherein bodies, labour, and social differences are made central to the scope of the medium. She is thrilled to be back in Toronto and have the opportunity to work in the space that has inspired so much of her research and teaching.

Professor Sarah Sharma
Associate Professor
Director of the McLuhan Program of Culture and Technology at the Coach House Institute (St. George Campus)
Hours: Tuesday 1130-1330
Degrees & Institutions:  

PhD Communication and Culture
York University
Toronto, Ontario

1999- 2000 
MA International Relations and Political Theory University of Westminster, Center for the Study of Democracy, London, England

1995- 1999  
BA Political Science University of British Columbia, Vancouver

Recent Courses:

CCIT 200 Intercultural Communication
CCIT 490 Gender, Sex, Machines: Readings in Feminist Media and Technology Studies

Selected Publications:


In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics, Duke University Press, 2014.
*Winner of the 2014 Critical Cultural Division National Communication Book of the Year Award

Journal Articles/Book Chapters

“Seizing Time and Ceasing Fire: Race and Mobility on the LA Gang Tour” co-authored with Armond Towns, Transfers Journal of Mobility Studies, (In press, forthcoming 2016).

“Temporality” in Laurie Ouellette and Jonathan Gray’s Keywords in Media Studies (under contract with New York University Press)

“The Speed Trap: Of Taxis, Truck Stops and TaskRabbits” in Societies of Speed edited by Judy Wajcman and Nigel Dodd (in press Oxford University Press, forthcoming Fall 2016)

“Checked Baggage: An Afterword for Time and Globalization” in Time and Globalization edited by O’Brien, Susie and Tony Porter et al (Routledge: New York, in press)

“Because the Night Belongs to Lovers: Occupy and the Time of Precarity” Communication and Critical Cultural Studies Vol. 11, Nos. 1, 2014.

“Critical Time”, Communication and Critical Cultural Studies, Vol. 10, Nos. 2-3, June-September 2013.

“It Changes Space and Time: Introducing Power-Chronography” in Jeremy Packer and Steve Wiley (eds) Communication Matters: Materialities, Infrastructure, and Flows Routledge, 2012.

“The Biopolitical Economy of Time” Special Issue on Autonomism and Communication: Ten Years after Empire in Journal of Communication Inquiry, Oct 2011.

“Taxicab Publics and the Production of Brown Space after 9/11”, Cultural Studies Vol. 24, No. 2 March 2010.

“PostFeminism Galore:  The Bond Girl as Weapon of Mass Consumption” (with Jeremy Packer) in Jeremy Packer’s Secret Agents: Popular Icons beyond James Bond (ed) Peter Lang: 2009.

“The Great American Staycation and the Risk of Stillness” M/C Journal of Media and Culture 12 (1) March 2009.

“Baring Life and Lifestyle in the Non-Place” Cultural Studies, Volume 23 Issue 1, Jan 2009.

“Taxis as Media:  A Temporal Materialist Reading of the Taxicab” Social Identities:  Journal of Race, Nation, and Culture 14.4 July 2008.

“Jean Baudrillard at the Edge of the Technological Dynamo” Communication and Critical Cultural Studies, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2008. (Invited)


Research Interests:

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.

Research Areas:

  • Technology and Culture
  • Toronto School
  • Feminist Media Studies
  • Political Theory (Autonomist Marxism, Post-Structuralism, Biopolitics)
  • Labour Studies
  • Globalization and Identity
  • Temporality and Social Space
University of Toronto Mississauga
3359 Mississauga Road ( View Map )
Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6
Tel: (905) 569-4455                [ Source: ]
Categories: Blog

For Whom the Medium Matters – A McLuhan Centre Symposium, April 16, Toronto

McLuhan Galaxy - Sun, 04/03/2016 - 12:58pm

For Whom The Medium Matters brings together local scholars and field defining media theorists who build on the Toronto School tradition. These are scholars “for whom” the medium is central to their work and address “for whom” the medium comes to matter in different ways.


University of Southern California

York University

New York University

PECHA KUCHA (Definition: )

Michael Darroch  WINDSOR+DETROIT
Judith Nicholson SMART GUNS, DUMB USERS?

Curated by Sarah Sharma
Director of McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology

Saturday, 16 April 2016 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (EDT) – Add to Calendar
McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology Coach House Institute – 39A Queens Park Crescent E Off 121 St. Joseph st., Toronto, ON M5S 2C3, Canada – View Map

Free Attendance, limited seating  –  Registration required:

McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology
Categories: Blog
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