4 Prophetic McLuhanisms

Boy, this week was weird! At its beginning, I was sick. At its middle, I began receiving unexpected compliments. Now, we’re at its end, and I’ve gotta make up for lost McLuhan time.

We’re on the countdown here, Reader — to the end of Marshall McLuhan Mondays. This coming Monday, July 22, will be the final installment. Piggybacking on Jennifer Fulwiler’s popular Friday series “7 Quick Takes,” I give you the following 4 mind-tickling probes — from a man who died in 1980:

1. EDUCATION. Recent NPR headline: New Reading Standards Aim to Prep Kids for College – But at What Cost? From the story: “Under the new standards, by the last couple years of high school, about 70 percent of what students read across all subjects must be nonfiction.”

McLuhan: “The trouble with a cheap, specialized education is that you never stop paying for it.”

2. ART. Recent ARTnews headline: The New World of Net Art. From the story: “Our cultural landscape is now rife with references to digital visualizations, such as pixelization or the plastic colors and stiff lines of digital rendering. And the boundary between the ‘virtual’ and the ‘real’ is often blurred.”

McLuhan: “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.” (Understanding Media, 1964)

3. ADVERTISING. Recent winner of 2 Gold CLIO Awards: Axe’s “Susan Glenn.”

McLuhan: “All advertising advertises advertising – no ad has its meaning alone.”

4. BUSINESS. Recent International Business Times headline: NSA and Big Data: How Technology Innovation Fuels PRISM. From the story: “The same innovations in software and hardware that aid your Google query or help advertisers track your habits online — like when you examine a book on Amazon and then see an ad for that book pop up later on Facebook — also allow the NSA to sort through reportedly tens of billions of pieces of information a month.”

McLuhan: “Privacy invasion is now one of biggest knowledge industries.” (Culture Is Our Business, 1970)


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