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McLuhan: From tweedy academic to household name. As icons go, few Canadians can claim the cachet of Herbert Marshall McLuhan.

McLuhan: From tweedy academic to household name

Think of it: a humble, tweedy academic (an English literature scholar, no less) who became a household name, right up there with the Beatles, Andy Warhol and Timothy Leary. For most of the 1960s and part of the 1970s, McLuhan seemed to be everywhere – on radio, in print, in film (most notably with a cameo appearance in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall) and especially on television. Thanks, Marshall, I think we've finally got the message... 'A prophet is not without honour", says the Bible, "save in his own country.

Thanks, Marshall, I think we've finally got the message...

" This was manifestly not true in the case of Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian cultural critic, who was born 100 years ago last Thursday, and was famous not only in his own country, but also abroad. In fact, he's the only public intellectual I can think of who played himself in a Woody Allen movie. Film buffs will recall the wonderful sequence in Annie Hall, where Woody and Diane Keaton are queuing for a movie when a guy behind them starts opining pompously about McLuhan's description of television as a "high intensity or hot medium". Allen expresses to camera a desire to have a large sock full of horse manure close to hand, whereupon the guy asserts his right to express his opinion on the grounds that he teaches a course at Columbia on "TV, media and culture", a fact that – he asserts – gives his views on McLuhan a great deal of validity. He retains, however, the capacity to polarise opinion that he always had. Why McLuhan's chilling vision still matters today.

Over the years I've been asking people in my life who are old enough to remember which technological change felt more like a cathartic change to society: TV in the 1950s or the internet since 2000.

Why McLuhan's chilling vision still matters today

Up until about 2006, everyone said TV. Since then – call me crazy, but I think it has to do with Google – it's been the internet and all its spawn: YouTube, smartphones, Facebook, apps … and everything else that jackhammers away at the time we once reserved for books, newspapers, daydreaming and, ironically, TV. It feels wistful to imagine a time when people didn't go about their daily routine with the assumption that at any moment another massive media technology will be dumped on us by some geek in California. We really ought to give ourselves a collective pat on the back for doing as well as we have in a universe of constant media change and mutation. Back at the start of TV people were thinking that it would be an excellent way to have puppet shows in the home.

The Big Ideas podcast: The medium is the message. The writing of the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this Thursday, has entered popular jargon like that of few other modern intellectuals.

The Big Ideas podcast: The medium is the message

Is there another line that has been quoted – and misquoted – as enthusiastically as 'the medium is the message'? The Importance Of Marshall McLuhan And His Ideas. Posted by Tom Foremski - July 23, 2011 (Portrait of Marshall McLuhan by Yousuf Karsh.

The Importance Of Marshall McLuhan And His Ideas

Copyright the Estate of Yousuf Karsh.) You may have noticed that the media loves to cover the media -- it's a narcissism that is not unique to the profession but certainly more visible because of its ready means of expression. McLuhan at 100. This week — Thursday, July 21, to be precise — marks the 100th anniversary of Marshall McLuhan’s birth.

McLuhan at 100

Here are some thoughts on the man and his legacy. One of my favorite YouTube videos is a clip from a 1968 Canadian TV show featuring a debate between Norman Mailer and Marshall McLuhan. Marshall McLuhan, Superstar. There was no longer a single thing in [the] environment that was not interesting [...]

Marshall McLuhan, Superstar

“Even if it’s some place I don’t find congenial, like a dull movie or a nightclub, I’m busy perceiving patterns,” he once told a reporter. A street sign, a building, a sports car — what, he would ask himself and others, did these things mean? —Philip Marchand, Marshall McLuhan:The Medium and the Messenger The public intellectual was invented in the mid-20th century.

Certainly there were others before that who started the ball rolling — talented writers and academics with flexible, open minds taking the whole culture into account, trying to make sense of things as they were happening — but few of them penetrated far beyond the walls of the academy or the confines of some other single discipline. Though he was an ordinary English prof by trade, McLuhan’s work had measurable effects on the worlds of art, business, politics, advertising and broadcasting. PLAYBOY: Have you ever taken LSD yourself? McLuhan at 100. Tomorrow is Marshall McLuhan’s 100th birthday.

McLuhan at 100

What would McLuhan have done? A flash crowd meetup? Or republish an old interview from Playboy in 1969? I never tired of McLuhan’s rants. Here are a some excerpts from that interview. Playboy McLuhan interview. The medium is the message in today's connected world.