A Brief Animated Introduction to the 1960s Media Theorist Who Predicted Our Present
Marshall McLuhan, writes novelist and artist Douglas Coupland, entered the zeitgeist in the 1960s as “a guru or as a villain – as a harbinger of the flowering of culture, or of its death,” a “fuddy-duddy fiftysomething English lit professor from Toronto” whose distinctive research interests and even more distinctive habits of mind empowered him to come up with still-resonant insights into the modern media landscape. He knew “that the point of much of technology, TV, for instance, wasn’t the content of the shows you were watching on it. Rather, what mattered was merely the fact that you were watching TV. The act of analyzing the content of TV – or of other mediums – is either sentimental or it’s beside the point.” The medium, in other words, is the message.
That best-known of McLuhan’s prophetic one-liners (on which he expands in the ABC Radio National talk below) remains as true now as it was when it first appeared in his book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man in 1964.