The Technium

McLuhan at 100

Tomorrow is Marshall McLuhan’s 100th birthday. What would McLuhan have done? A flash crowd meetup? Or republish an old interview from Playboy in 1969?

I never tired of McLuhan’s rants. Here are a some excerpts from that interview. Remember this was 1969:

In our software world of instant electric communications movement, politics is shifting from the old patterns of political representation by electoral delegation to a new form of spontaneous and instantaneous communal involvement in all areas of decision making.

Personal diversity is encouraged while at the same time everybody reacts and interacts simultaneously to every stimulus.

Today the computer could program the media to determine the given messages a people should hear in terms of their over-all needs, creating a total media experience absorbed and patterned by all the senses.

I see no possibility of a worldwide Luddite rebellion that will smash all machinery to bits, so we might as well sit back and see what is happening and what will happen to us in a cybernetic world. Resenting a new technology will not halt its progress.

Man’s relationship with his machinery is thus inherently symbiotic. This has always been the case; it’s only in the electric age that man has an opportunity to recognize this marriage to his own technology.

I’m “predicting” what has already happened and merely extrapolating a current process to its logical conclusion.

The extensions of man’s consciousness induced by the electric media could conceivably usher in the millennium, but it also holds the potential for realizing the Anti-Christ.

The new man, linked in a cosmic harmony that transcends time and space, will sensuously caress and mold and pattern every facet of the terrestrial artifact as if it were a work of art, and man himself will become an organic art form. There is a long road ahead, and the stars are only way stations, but we have begun the journey.

— Marshall McLuhan, Playboy Interview, 1969

634295557175459083 Image from Joseph Barbacia


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