A couple of hours ago, we saw smoke rising from Old Orchard Beach, a mile away from the cottage here in Ocean Park, Maine. The fire was under control by the time we reached The Galaxy at 2 East Grand on our bikes, but the popular nightclub was no more.
Marshall McLuhan begins Understanding Media’s Chapter 21, titled “Press,” with his observation that “electrically moved information” involves the entire society in the decision-making process. (p. 203) Let’s identify this as another of his amazingly prescient insights, given the role that tweets, blogs, and e-mail played in the hammering out of a bipartisan debt and spending deal this past weekend in Washington, D.C.
Here’s the idea:
As the speed of information increases, the tendency is for politics to move away from representation and delegation of constituents toward immediate involvement of the entire community in the central acts of decision.
Information also moved quickly along the beach today, and from there the speed accelerated via smartphones and digital cameras aimed at the firemen and the plumes of water angled down at the smoking nightclub. I sent a video from my iPhone to my friend Tom in Casper, who is a volunteer fireman and would have been providing play-by-play commentary if he’d been with us. Where else were those photos being electrically moved from the scene of the fire? Many, no doubt, traveled with French text, because Old Orchard is a popular summer destination for visitors from Quebec.
We arrived at Ocean Park yesterday for an extended stay. Already I feel detached from McLuhan’s abstract ruminations and have decided to lighten up on my daily practice of meditating on them. I’ll be back to MM here from time to time.
I have in mind a new creative project for my mornings by the sea, and I’m going to cut back my podcasting schedule to open up time for the new work. Instead of a Kindle Chronicles and an Edge of the Road podcast each week, they will go to alternating biweekly schedules till Labor Day.
With these changes, I’m not exactly stopping the presses. Just slowing them down a bit to slightly less electric speed. Stay cool!