Another New McLuhan Centenary Visiting Fellow at the University of Toronto: David Nostbakken

David Nostbakken
 David Nostbakken

David will be working with thought leaders in and outside the university to contemplate twenty first century opportunities and alternatives for the McLuhan Program. Given his background in technology and culture, and personal connection with McLuhan, he is the ideal candidate to help develop plans for the Program’s future.

David developed a strong personal and professional relationship with McLuhan in the 1970s as his doctoral student, as an assistant teacher with him, as neighbours at Wychwood Park, and later, as business advisors.

McLuhan is recognized as the first visionary of the cultural and information age, who coined the phrase, “The medium is the message,” “The Global Village,” and many others. He became famous around the world for his work in media theory and communications, and his theories remains highly relevant even today.

For the Fellowship, Nostbakken is asking several thought leaders a series of questions including: What matters in the 21st century around which the McLuhan Program should reposition itself? What approach should we take in the digital age? Who should our partners be within and outside the academic community?  

“I hope to support changes by gaining invaluable insight through interviews, discussions and roundtables. They will help us imagine what the McLuhan Program could be for the 21st century,” David says, “as we seek advice, commitments and partnerships.”

Having a teacher-student rapport, and later a working relationship with the University of Toronto’s inspirational intellectual force, David says Marshall’s influence had a profound impact on him and the way he perceives the world.

“He taught me the importance of language and poetic resonance in unlocking new perception and deeper understanding,” says Nostbakken. McLuhan was driven less by career aspirations and more by the desire to know. “This passion for insight and understanding, a kind of quest for truth, rubbed off on those of us who worked with him.”

With a BA in Philosophy and English completed at the University of Saskatchewan, a Masters in Education at University of Toronto, Nostbakken’s PhD thesis was undertaken with the guidance of McLuhan on cultural influences of electronic media.

David says society didn’t pay attention to print until we had television, and the way it has shaped the way we think and act. Further, he says we must understand how important it is to study how technology and culture intersects with other aspects of our lives.

“He rose to prominence in the mid-twentieth century when he explored the impact of print technology which was by then giving way to electronic media including television. While he anticipated the digital global village of our current times, he has left it to us to explore our rapidly changing sphere of the twenty-first century.”

McLuhan’s influence is apparent, as David launched a number of media enterprises and platforms including Vision TV in Canada, WETV International, China Green Channel International, Ecology Global Network, and a number of not-for-profit enterprises including Power of Peace Network with UNESCO and as a founding Director of Digital Opportunity Trust.

David is President of N&N Inc. , a media and communications consulting firm. He serves on a number of boards and splits his time between Toronto and Ottawa, where he teaches strategic communication in social entrepreneurship at Carleton University.

“There are a few things more important than who we are culturally. We now have the technology to discover who we are around the world,” says Nostbakken. In essence, we need to understand our cultural realities worldwide by ensuring that we explore and employ the technological means to do so.  (Source: )






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