Happy 100th Birthday Marshall McLuhan

The Ballad of Marshall Mcluhan from Randall Acronym on Vimeo.

It is the Marshall McLuhan's 100th birthday today. In the video above, the very funny Vestibules describes the Marshall as having "the best insight into mass media, this side of the Rio Grande."

The great media theorist coined the phrase "global village", "the medium is the message, and beloved of treehuggers everywhere, "There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew."


Woody Allen and Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall

The Toronto Standard has a longer, wonderful quote from a Playboy interview in 1969 that shows how little things have changed in the media in 42 years, as he deals with those who criticize his work:

Theirs is the customary human reaction when confronted with innovation: to flounder about attempting to adapt old responses to new situations or to simply condemn or ignore the harbingers of change--a practice refined by the Chinese emperors, who used to execute messengers bringing bad news. The new technological environments generate the most pain among those least prepared to alter their old value structures. The literati find the new electronic environment far more threatening than do those less committed to literacy as a way of life. When an individual or social group feels that its whole identity is jeopardized by social or psychic change, its natural reaction is to lash out in defensive fury. But for all their lamentations, the revolution has already taken place.

McLuhan foresaw the internet in 1962:

The next medium, whatever it is - it may be the extension of consciousness - will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual's encyclopedic function and flip into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind.

According to Wikipedia, he even invented the term "surfing" in its electronic form:

McLuhan coined and certainly popularized the usage of the term "surfing" to refer to rapid, irregular and multidirectional movement through a heterogeneous body of documents or knowledge, e.g., statements like "Heidegger surf-boards along on the electronic wave as triumphantly as Descartes rode the mechanical wave."

He certainly was, as Radio Free Vestibule describes him in the video, a groovy thinker.