An Imaginary Discussion Between Marshall McLuhan, Bill Bernbach & Steve Jobs (in Heaven, no doubt)

02Aug12

What Do Titans Talk About at Tea? – By Ian Mirlin

Bill Bernbach [of Madison Avenue advertising fame], Steve Jobs and Marshall McLuhan get together over heavenly Hash to discuss why technology isn’t a substitute for thought, the role of ego in consumer products and who owes whom stock options.

This excerpt is from the July/August issue of Applied Arts Magazine; unfortunately the magazine’s contents aren’t published on its website at http://tinyurl.com/879utlp .

MM: Language is suffering corruption … affected by the forms found within the semaphore of text messaging and the colloquialism of the social media. It’s worth saying that viral advertising is premised on creating message contagion, but the virus also infects language radically.

SJ: Back o Bill’s point that he doesn’t see any brilliant work. I know you’ll agree that the ultimate purpose of advertising is to “sell”. Don’t you think today’s technology improves the effectiveness of a sales message? And Marshall, don’t you think the new media, social or otherwise, exert any positive influence on our humanity?

BB: I think technology may make a good idea work better, but it’s not a substitute for an idea. My issue is that these days technology is mostly covering up for the lack of ideas. We should be wary of techniques or technology for its own sake, even when buying a lawn mower. But when great technology is harnessed to a great idea, watch out. We can change the world.

MM: Do social media exert any positive influence? Will the likes of Facebook make us more human? Not likely. But perhaps sites like Facebook or Twitter can make us more aware of what our humanity means. If you happen to be motivated by a certain ideology or if you happen to find a certain breed of dog attractive or happen to collect vintage cars, then your feeling of connectedness to those with similar affinities to yours brings with it a sense of belonging. It’s this feeling of belonging or communal acceptance that leads to self-acceptance that we might call “humanizing”. I suppose that, in itself, is a good thing.  

            But we should bear in mind that these social media sites are really only suburbs in the global village, developed and run by its local citizens. They’re tremendously ghettoized within themselves. Let’s not mistake any social media site for a united and benign collective. That’s where their humanity ends. At least for the moment.

Unfortunately, the only way to read the rest is to purchase the magazine.

 William Bernbach   Steve Jobs Picture Steve Jobs

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3 Responses to “An Imaginary Discussion Between Marshall McLuhan, Bill Bernbach & Steve Jobs (in Heaven, no doubt)”


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