NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday October 17th 2017

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Letter to the Community

The medium, or process of our time – electric technology – is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and re-evaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted. Everything is changing – you, your family, your neighbourhood, your education, your job, your government, your relation to “the others.” And they’re changing dramatically.

“Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication. The alphabet, for instance, is a technology that is absorbed by the very young child in a completely unconscious manner, by osmosis so to speak. Words and the meaning of words predispose the child to think and act automatically in certain ways. The alphabet and print technology fostered and encouraged a fragmenting process, a process of specialism and of detachment. Electric technology fosters and encourages unification and involvement. It is impossible to understand social and cultural changes without a knowledge of the workings of media.

“The older training of observation has become quite irrelevant in this new time, because it is based on psychological responses and concepts conditioned by the former technology – mechanization.

“Innumerable confusions and a profound feeling of despair invariably emerge in periods of great technological and cultural transitions. Our “Age of Anxiety” is, in great part, the result of trying to do today’s job with yesterday’s tools – with yesterday’s concepts.

“Youth instinctively understands the present environment – the electric drama. It lives mythically and in depth. This is the reason for the great alienation between generations. Wars, revolutions, civil uprisings are interfaces within the new environments created by electric informational media.”

‘The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects’ (1967). Reproduced with permission by Penguin Books

From, Marshall McLuhan, July 21, 1911-Dec 31, 1980 

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