TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM

BY MARSHALL MCLUHAN

 

The new electronic media have radically altered the way people think, feel and act.

We are in the midst of a revolution, and the world will never be the same

COMMUNICATION INVENTIONS:

4 Periods

  1. Tribal age
  2. Literate age
  3. Print age
  4. Electronic age

 

Chart P. 342 Marshall McLuhan’s Media Map of History

According to McLuhan, the crucial inventions that changed life on this planet were the phonetic alphabet, the printing press and the telegraph.

Phonetic alphabet catapulted the human race into an age of literacy

Gutenberg’s press launched the Industrial Revolution

WE SHAPE OUT TOOLS AND THEY IN TURN SHAPE US

Technological Determinism is that inventions in technology invariably cause cultural change…..Or the modes of communication shape human existence.

Harold Innis suggested that sudden extensions of communication are reflected in cultural disturbances

McLuhan unique in claiming that channels of communication are the primary cause of cultural change

Family life, the workplace, schools, health care, friendship, religion, recreation, politics are all touched by communication technology

McLuhan viewed every new form of media innovation to be an extension of some human faculty

Book is an extension of the eye

Wheel is an extension of the foot

Clothing is an extension of the skin

Electronic circuitry or the computer is an extension of the central nervous system

DEFINES MEDIA AS ANYTHING THAT AMPLIFIES OR INTENSIFIES A BODILY ORGAN, SENSE OR FUNCTION.

Media extend our reach and increase our efficiency. Also act to filter or organize and interpret our social existence.

THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE

The way we live is largely a function of the way we process information

The phonetic alphabet, the printing press and the telegraph were turning points because they changed the way people thought about themselves and their world

THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES RADICALLY ALTER THE WAY PEOPLE USE THEIR 5 SENSES. CONTENT OR THE MESSAGE PLAYS A SUBORDINATE ROLE.

 

THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE

THE MEDIUM IS THE MASS-AGE

 

 

A MEDIA ANALYSIS OF HISTORY-McLuhan supported his thesis for technological determinism by interpreting the sweep of human history from a media perspective

 

  1. THE TRIBAL AGE. AN ACOUSTIC PLACE IN HISTORY
  2. An acoustic place

    Oral culture based on the ear

  3. THE AGE OF LITERACY: A VISUAL POINT
  4. The alphabet fell into the acoustic world like a bombshell, installing sight at the head of the hierarchy of senses

    Literacy jarred people out of collective tribal involvement into a "civilized" private detachment

    An orderly line of connected linear logic

     

     

  5. THE PRINT AGE; PROTOTYPE OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
  6. If the phonetic alphabet made visual dependence possible, the printing press made it widespread

    The print revolution demonstrated mass production of identical products. McLuhan called it the "fore runner" of the industrial revolution

  7. THE ELCTRONIC AGE: THE RISE OF THE GLOBAL VILLAGE

Electronic media are retribalizing the human race

Instant communication has returned us to a prealphabet oral tradition where sound and touch are more important than sight. "We have gone back to the future".

We are a global village in touch with everyone, everywhere, all-at-once- all-the-time-instantaneously

Closed human systems no longer exist.

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SOURCES:

Wood, Julia. (1997) Communication Theories in Action: An Introduction Wadsworth Publishing Company.

McClish, Glen. (1997). Instructor's Manual to Accompany EM Griffin's A First Look at Communication Theory McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

Griffin, EM. (1997) A First Look at Communication Theory. McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

CD-ROM:

BILL GATES "THE ROAD AHEAD".

ENCARTA "TECHNOLOGY"