04w39:1 Marshall McLuhan and Malcom Gladwell

by timothy. 0 Comments

Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 39 number 1 (marshall mcluhan and malcolm gladwell)

Having gotten a better vintage copy of “Understanding Media”, one of the books I tried to sell at the used bookstore in the spring of 1999 was my other copy. They wouldn’t take it because they were well stocked. After I left the store, I ran into some acquaintances on the next block and we struck up a chat. I handed my McLuhan to one of them saying, “here take it, it’s a good read”. Now that they’re gearing up for a big McLuhan festival here in Toronto next month, I was inclined to visit the McLuhan files on the CBC Archives site, which are wonderful. They require Windows Media Player 9 (available here for OSX) and a good bandwidth. Since McLuhan’s study was the difference between “print man” and the electronic creature, I’ve included an article written by Malcolm Gladwell on “the social life of paper”. – Timothy


Marshall McLuhan, the Man and his Message | CBC Archives
“He was a man of idioms and idiosyncrasies, deeply intelligent and a soothsayer. He had prescient knowledge of the Internet. Although educated in literature, Marshall McLuhan was known as a pop philosopher because his theories applied to mini-skirts and the twist. For his ability to keep up with the cutting edge, one colleague called him ‘The Runner.’ Critics said he destroyed literary values. Today, McLuhanÂ’s ideas are new again, applied to the electronic media that he predicted.”

The Wisdom of Saint Marshall, the Holy Fool | Gary Wolf
“By the time of his death, he had been dismissed by respectable academicians, and he was known in the popular press as an eccentric intellectual whose day in the media spotlight had come and gone. By 1980, the transformation of human life catalyzed by television was taken for granted, and it no longer seemed interesting to ask where the electronic media were taking us. But in recent years, the explosion of new media – particularly the Web – has caused new anxieties. Or to put a more McLuhanesque spin on it, the advent of new digital media has brought the conditions of the old technologies into sharper relief, and made us suddenly conscious of our media env ironment. In the confusion of the digital revolution, McLuhan is relevant again.” Article Date: January 1996

The Social Life of Paper | Malcolm Gladwell
“Dewey’s principal business was something called the Library Bureau, which was essentially the Office Depot of his day, selling card catalogues, cabinets, office chairs and tables, pre-printed business forms, and, most important, filing cabinets. Previously, businessmen had stored their documents in cumbersome cases, or folded and labelled the pieces of paper and stuck them in the pigeonholes of the secretary desks so common in the Victorian era. What Dewey proposed was essentially an enlarged version of a card catalogue, where paper documents hung vertically in long drawers. The vertical file was a stunning accomplishment. In those efficiency-obsessed days, it prompted books and articles and debates and ended up winning a gold medal at the 1893 World’s Fair, because it so neatly addressed the threat of disorder posed by the proliferation of paper. What good was that railroad schedule, after all, if it was lost on someone’s desk? Now a railroad could buy one of Dewey’s vertical filing cabinets, and put the schedule under ‘S,’ where everyone could find it.”

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emailed by Timothy on Monday 20 September 2004 @ 1:33 PM

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