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Marshall McLuhan goes to Information On Demand
Delaney Turner 270003RQ8K Delaney.Turner@ca.ibm.com | | Tags:  business_analytics iod11
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With the possible exception of fellow Canadian Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan did more to advance our understanding of electronic media and mass information than anyone before or since. He would have turned 100 last month, and I thought I'd use the occasion to reflect his work, particularly as we (and you) prepare for Information On Demand.
In The Gutenberg Galaxy, Understanding Media and other works, McLuhan explored on the disruptive effects of electronic communications on the existing, print-based media landscape. In his view, every new medium challenges the basic assumptions people live and work by. Thus, in the same way the printing press wrested control of information away from the church, McLuhan saw radio and television driving a new and equally dramatic transformation - away from a linear way of absorbing information toward more a more instantaneous, organic way of responding to it.
McLuhan believed that the medium conveying information had as much of an impact on the recipient as the information itself; hence, "The Medium is the Message." Whether the technology was moveable type or radio tubes, information in both cases was reshaped to suit a new form factor; it became more accessible to more people, in more places, more quickly. The more people consumed this information in new and different ways, the more dramatic the effect on people's perceptions of (and attitudes toward) businesses, government and the world around them.
With the web, mobility and social technologies now dominating not only the media, but business and governments as well, few would argue that we're seeing similar disruptions today. Information now exists in such volumes and moves at such speeds through so many devices as to demand new ways of understanding it. To a large extent we are only now living in the world that only McLuhan could see. This is why, 30 years after his death and nearly 50 years after the publication of Understanding Media, his insights remain not only fresh and relevant to scholars, but highly applicable to anyone involved in managing information and creating meaningful insights from raw data and who may be attending Information On Demand.
Consider the following "probes" (you can find more on the Marshall McLuhan Speaks web site):
McLuhan died before the world he saw came into being, but his influence permeates our language and culture. He coined the term "global village." His quip "the medium is the message" is quoted in Mad Men. Kevin Kelly named him Wired Magazine's "patron saint of the information age." The fact that there's so much McLuhan on the web would no doubt have pleased him immensely. Comedy troupe Radio Free Vestibule recast "Marshall" McLuhan as a wild west sherriff
The Ballad of Marshall Mcluhan from Randall Acronym on Vimeo.