Put More Than a Toe in the Water

From Understanding Media at page 195:

Education is ideally civil defense against media fall-out. Yet Western man has had, so far, no education or equipment for meeting any of the new media on their own terms.

You have to give Marshall McLuhan credit for daring to think big about his own role in the history of Western Civilization.  That boldness is probably why his writing retains such intellectual force.  Every technology brings its awkwardness and bafflement, and high stakes for the existing order.  It’s natural to seek someone who can explain what’s happening, and how it will turn out.  Enter a charismatic voice from Canada, offering to meet the new media of television on its own terms.  For a while, the offer was eagerly taken up by corporations, media moguls, and the public.

I see the same phenomenon now in the age of Social Media. There is a good living to be had in boldly offering yourself as someone who Gets It regarding Twitter, Facebook, and most recently, Google Plus. What I notice is that the people who have the most to offer are actually living in the new media – using it, loving it, testing it, trying to break it through intense use. They are actually more interested in experiencing it and contributing to it than they are in making speeches about it, trying to explain it to people who have not even put a little toe in the water yet.

Same with e-books.  The people who have something to offer are way in, too far to return. They don’t read print books any more, and they are not interested in debating the virtues of the smell of the book. They just love reading this way.  They are meeting the new media on its own terms.

I’m on a tight schedule this morning, so I don’t have time to bend the photo of Harvard’s Newell Boathouse to the topic of the day.  I hope you enjoy it.

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