Week 11: Andrew McLuhan

Alright so today was definitely an interesting class. If you have taken a communications class at SFU or have simply walked by the faculty, all you hear about is Karl Marx and Marshall McLuhan. 

So imagine my surprise when our guest lecturer announces he’s the child of Karl Marx. Just kidding! He was actually the grandson of Marshall McLuhan. Which was the equivalent of meeting an academic celebrity. Just like his grandfather he was very well spoken and articulate.

He spoke to us about the “medium is the message” and McLuhan’s philosophy and views. 

McLuhan was definitely an academic rockstar. He was on TV well before it was acceptable for academics to be on TV, he was open with his ideas and he explained them well. The medium is the message touches upon the idea that form is more important than the content.

Here’s an example. When the TV first came out, people thought wow the message is what is playing on the TV. It will revolutionize communication. But the TV revolutionized more than just communication. It impacted interior design, status symbols, and urban design. 

You might be wondering; how?

Well, before the TV, houses were centered around a fireplace. Now, they are centered around a TV. Since a TV was this new invention, not everyone could afford it making it a status symbol for those who could. Before a TV, people had to live closer to downtown to be able to get information and stay updated with people. After the TV came into the picture, you no longer were no longer limited to live in urban areas to stay connected. People were limited solely based on employment. 

We’re seeing this shift happen today. With the pandemic and people working from home, we are seeing a shift in urban density. Why would you live in an expensive studio downtown when you could live in a cushy mansion near the suburbs? The medium is the message. The idea that the form, not its content has a greater impact on society. 

In the modern context we see how Zoom has made learning limitless. We are no longer limited geographically to get an education. Time zone’s mean nothing for classes as they are prerecorded. In future, this could also mean that people are no longer limited financially to get an education either.

What has been communicated, means nothing compared to what it was communicated with. What has had greater change on history, all the letters ever written or the invention of paper and email? McLuhan was an absolute genius and to watch his grandson follow in his footsteps of becoming an academic was equally inspiring. 

In terms of how McLuhan’s teaching relates to my website, it doesn’t directly. But I shouldn’t be asking what I should be changing about my website, but discover what the website has changed about me. I have become a slightly more expressive person, and I think I have now gained some web-design skills (as long as there’s a theme available).

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