About


38 Responses to “About”

  1. Next year, 2011, is the centenary of Marshall McLuhan’s birth on July 21. This blog is intended to detail the events of the coming centenary year, to track the increasing recognition of McLuhan’s ideas and relevance in our Internet Age, and to detail my own explorations of his work and legacy.

    Dr. Alex Kuskis was born in Czechoslovakia of Latvian parents and immigrated to Canada at the age of 4. He has divided his career equally between education and business. Holding a BA in English from the University of Western Ontario, and an MA in Dramatic Literature & Theatre History from the University of Toronto, more recently he completed MEd and PhD degrees in Educational Computing & Online Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. He has held management positions in book publishing for such firms as Penguin, Holt, Rinehart & Winston & John Wiley, as well as IT and computer training companies. With teaching stints at the Universities of Toronto, Manitoba (where he also directed student theatre) and Wilfrid Laurier University, he has taught online for Connected University and Royal Roads University. He has also held academic administration positions at DeVry Institute of Technology, the Institute for Computer Studies, and the University of Guelph. Now preferring to teach courses online, he occasionally accepts assignments as an e-learning consultant. He presently teaches online communication theory and media studies courses for Gonzaga University’s MA Program in Communication & Leadership. See http://tinyurl.com/625mf3p .

    His academic interests include media ecology, Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman, online learning, communication theory & history, and Internet studies. He is currently writing a book on McLuhan’s ideas on education, co-authored by Robert Logan.

    • 2 Debbie Ponsaran

      Thank you so much for this excellent blog… really very informative.

  2. 3 Tracy Conway

    I get a lot out of this blog, so thank you for compiling these articles and hosting this.

  3. I am REALLY excited that there is a blog dedicated to McLuhan. I plan on reading everything on here!!! Thanks for keeping the works and ideas of McLuhan alive and available to people.

  4. 5 Dr. Dampier Whetterbottom

    I have just been made aware of this blog by my collegue
    Dr. Zoot Horn Rollo …

    just wsnted to say this is THE BEST BLOG IN THE UNIVERSE !

    You are obviously a GENIUS of stupendous proportions !

    I would gladly pay a subscription fee to have access to
    your talents but it is free ! i WILL TELL MY FRIENDS !

    Kee[ up the good work !

    Sincerely

    Dr. Dampier Whetterbottom
    Department of Communications
    Sheffield University

  5. Fine understanding of medias are had on every web pag !

    You must be first of class media ecologist because you so smart
    and ahead in understanding of everybody in your worlds.

    We desire your skills to help set up our new programs
    in media/comunication study.

    Great movements on the blog !

    Professor Li Wan Wu
    Institute of Media Study
    Peking University,
    No.5 Yiheyuan Road Haidian District,
    Beijing, P.R.China 100871
    http://www.pku.edu.cn/

  6. 8 Dr. Praveer S. Patel

    Dear Blogmaster,

    Your blog is quite the service and does great wook for the world of
    researchers and mediums. Thank you for all the times you take to put it
    into a web of messages to McLuhan interests.

    All of my colleageues here have been pouring over your wook
    for many days and we certainly think you are a man of the world
    going up and down and around in it.

    Impressive is the word I say it is ! Please make it so more !

    Kind Regards,

    Dr. Praveer S. Patel
    Research Chair
    Mumbai Institute of Media Studies
    Mumbai, India

  7. Happy Birhtday !

    New here to web and know not so much about McLuhan …
    are you related to him ?

    Is he astronomist or why all the mentions of galaxy ?
    Very nice space you have for him.
    I have a Yahoo account so I will await you return.
    Nice gray background … Strong presentation of blog linkage.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Hu [Sip] Bohng
    Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics and Strategic Research
    KIMEP
    2 Abay Ave., Office 209
    Almaty 050010
    Republic of Kazakhstan

  8. forgotask … probe is a what ?
    Is it like grip on a rope of a stick … sorry
    for type here.

    • Definition of a probe by Eric MacLuhan/William Kuhns: “The probe is a means or method of perceiving. It comes from the world of conversation and dialogue as much as from poetics and literary criticism. Like conversation, the verbal probe is discontinuous, nonlinear; it tackles things from many angles at once.”
      – Book of Probes (2003), p. 403.

  9. 12 Dr. J. Bruce Wrotten

    so good to see someone who knows what they are doing …

    Dr. J. B. Wrotten
    Department of Philosophy
    University of Wallamaloo
    Queensland, Australia

  10. 13 Dr. Rebop Kwakubah

    Is it true MM looked down on all non white peoples
    and was extremely homophobic …

    Why the admiration can you tell me please ?

    Dr. Rebop Kwakubah
    Race, Gender + Media Studies
    London School of Economics

  11. 15 Professor Hafdís Vilborg Jóhannsdóttir

    I think his homophobia comes from his time at Cambridge … he suspected everyone was either “a homo or a commie” … as for non whites … he does seem to refer to them as ‘primitives’ alot …

    Professor Hafdís Vilborg Jóhannsdóttir
    Cultural Studies
    The University of Akureyri
    Nordurslod 2
    600 Akureyri, Iceland

    • Yes, that’s true. Cambridge in the 1930s was rife with both homosexuals and and communists. However, possibly more important was his early upbringing in 2 of Canada’s most conservative provinces, Alberta, where he was born, and Manitoba, where he grew up and attended the University of Manitoba. A person’s early upbringing forms the character more than the later university years. His dislike of both homosexuals and communists is also consistent with his conversion to Catholicism in 1937. As for persons of color, Canada in the 1930s to 1960s was a very white country; I doubt if he had experienced much interaction with colored people, so had little knowledge of them. But, I wouldn’t call him a racist…….Alex

  12. 17 Professor Jacques Duhamel

    >But, I wouldn’t call him a racist…….Alex

    “The Negro is turned on by electricity.
    The old literacy never turned him on
    because it rejected and degraded
    the Negro, but electricity turns him
    on and accepts him totally as
    an integral human being.”

    Professor Jacques Duhamel
    Center for Media Studies
    Duke University

    • I see nothing racist in that. Seemingly you do. We disagree. In any case it’s a minor comment in an extensive body of influential work that is not worth blowing out of proportion. I know plenty of people who knew the man personally, along with critics of his work, and nobody I’m aware of has ever seen elements of racism in his work…….Alex

  13. 19 Mark Stahlman

    Alex:

    As you know, McLuhan was “religious” about keeping his own personal views out of his public affairs. Selecting a quote and trying to ascribe it to him personally is a fundamental error. In fact, McLuhan’s extraordinary efforts to not “take sides” in the various conflicts of the late 60’s probably set him up for the sharp decline in interest in his work in the 70’s.

    That decline was accelerated by the character assassination penned by Jonathan Miller in 1971, which highlighted McLuhan’s Catholicism. Miller was a member the Cambridge Apostle’s secret society, which incidentally had more than its share of homosexuals and communists.

    Racism, in particular, does not fit with his Catholicism. As an actively universal church, Catholics span the globe, in every culture and with members in every race. Racism — prejudice based on racial background — makes no sense for a Catholic.

    Obviously, comments about “primitives,” referencing dominant media and cultural patterns, isn’t speaking about race. McLuhan was quite aware that a return of “orality” (i.e. culture caused by electric media) meant a return of paganism and that the neo-Pagans would very likely be racially white. His whole discussion of the “Global Village” (and much more) was built on the recognition that primitive behaviors showed no racial affinity.

    Mark Stahlman
    Brooklyn NY

    • Mark,
      Thank you for those astute comments, which are – er, pardon the pun, on the mark. Indeed, Catholicism is incompatible with racist views. I teach online communication courses part-time for a Jesuit university in the U.S. that is not only non-racist, but also indulgent about other religions, as well as non-religion. It employs Buddhists, Jews, people of other Christian faiths, as well as atheists and agnostics. However, let’s remember that McLuhan wasn’t born a Catholic, but converted to it in 1937 at the age of 26; he called it entering by the back door of the Church, rather than the front door. He was exposed to Catholic thinking at Cambridge in the 1930s, where, instead of following the fashionable cult of communism among students, he became an ardent follower of G.K. Chesterton and other Catholic writers. Anyone interested in McLuhan’s conversion to Catholicism should listen to the following audio clip, made available by the National Library & Archives of Canada:
      http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/030003/f7/030003-002.wma .

      For what it’s worth, I once met Jonathan Miller at a Shakespeare academic conference and a more arrogant and condescending Brit I have never met. McLuhan himself was considered to be a hick from the colonies by some of his contemporaries at Cambridge; there is something of that colonial condescension in Miller’s put-down of his work. But, Miller will be forgotten, whereas McLuhan is increasingly remembered and acknowledged.”The whirligig of time brings its revenges”……Alex

  14. 21 Mark Stahlman

    Alex:

    Thanks for posting this audio clip — as usual, you need to listen to the end!

    He says, “I was studying the Church as FORMAL CAUSE — its effects. But I wasn’t studying its effects on ME.”

    Expanding on his “back door” metaphor, he explains the DOOR = Formal Cause and the KNOCK = prayer and then the effect that it had on him.

    My guess is that nearly everyone who calls themselves a McLUHANITE (and, indeed, most of those who are gearing up for the celebrations this year) have no idea what Formal Cause even means. It simply never came up in their “modern” education.

    And as a result, they truly “know nothing” of his work.

    In particular, when he says “the medium is the message and the user is the content,” he is simply restating his own experience of conversion.

    MEDIUM = FORMAL CAUSE (i.e. the Church is the “message”) and USER = EFFECT (i.e. his conversion is the “content”).

    Fortunately, this year Eric McLuhan is publishing his book “Media and Formal Cause” along with another titled “Theories of Communication” — in which he’ll discuss the communication theory of Aquinas, one of his father’s key sources on Formal Causality. Both are mistakenly noted as published in 2009 on his website —

    http://ericmcluhan.com/

    Perhaps this will even lead some to ponder the impact of another key McLuhan phrase (also borrowed from Aquinas), the “analogy of proper proportionality”?

    Mark Stahlman
    Brooklyn NY

  15. 22 Paul Evitts

    We met tonite, at the Salon. I asked about the blog. It turns out I’ve been absorbing it for the last month or so. Great site. Many thanks!

    • Thanks, Paul. I was pleased to meet you. I hope this blog is useful to you. I find it u
      seful for myself to be able to keep on top of things in the McLuhan world, as it relates to scholarship and the influence of his ideas…….AlexK

  16. Hi
    I’ve just posted an article by MM on my blog that you may want to look at.

    http://includemeout2.blogspot.com/2011/12/reversal-of-overheated-image-marshall.html

  17. 25 MD

    Your blog on Alexander Bell begins “This article omits…” It would be helpful if you would kindly specify such references with proper citation data.

  18. I suggest you take a look at this site, Alex, if you aren’t aware of it:

    http://mcluhansandbox.wordpress.com

    It’s created by Torontonian Scott Woods:

    Scott Woods

    scott woods

    Bob Dobbs

    • Bob, I am aware of it and included a link to it under blogroll titled as Blog: McLuhan Sandbox . I was recently reminded of it and was impressed by what was being done with the blog. I’ll think about a feature posting of it to bring it to wider attention. Thank you, and I appreciate when you’re willing to share some of the good stuff I know you find.

  19. Hi Alex, I wish to send you a paper copy of my book
    The Digitally Divided Self: Relinquishing our Awareness to the Internet
    which was, among others, endorsed by Eric and Michael McLuhan.

    • Hi Ivo, I notice at Amazon.ca that your book also has endorsements from other friends of mine like Doug Rushkoff and Derrick de Kerckhove. However, I read a review of your book that makes it seem doubtful that I will agree much with your seemingly anti-technology premise. That review is at http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/2011/12/review-the-digitally-divided-self-by-ivo-quartiroli/. I am a technorealist who seeks a middle way between the techno-optimists and neo-Luddites. See http://www.technorealism.org/. I have worked in communication industries all my life, from the book publishing industry to the computer industry and I do not necessarily see books and computers as incompatible. I see the Internet first and foremost as a learning platform, the most powerful one ever created, and I also teach Masters-level university courses online. As for spirituality, I do not necessarily see that within institutionalized religion. To me, it is a personal matter. That being said, if you still wish to send me your book I will send you my postal address by email. But I cannot guarantee how quickly I will find time to read it. But, I appreciate your interest. Thank you…….Alex

      • Thank you for your interest Alex. I am much into technology as anybody else, probably much more than the average person. You have to bite the snake to become immune from the poison 🙂

        I don’t understand where you inferred spirituality within institutionalized religions in my writings. Since the drive to higher awareness is part of human beings, I think that spirituality it “might” even happen through organized religions. However in my understanding and experiencing spirituality I avoided institutionalized religions. Yet I value the importance of a spiritual community in my path. Just few rare beings succeeded in spiritual accomplishments without the guidance, support and friendship of other beings on the path.

        I got your postal address in my email, I’ll send you a copy of my book, a paper copy. In my view, books and computers aren’t incompatible. However I consider screen media as previews of what a book can offer.

      • Dear Ivo,
        I did not infer institutionalized religion from your writings, as I have not read any of them yet, just that one review of your book that I pointed out. But having a lifelong argument with institutionalized religion, I simply stated my disagreement with it in case you were including it in your idea of spirituality. But I am wholly in favour of higher awareness as a form of spirituality and pursue that myself.

        And I don’t think using new media and technology in general for empowerment and self-expression is incompatible with it. Yes, the one aspect of institutionalized religion that I value and miss is the community aspect. But even atheists and agnostics are forming communities and their own “churches”, not that I would accept any of those labels for myself.

        I look forward to receiving your book and will recommend it if I like it. I see you are on Facebook. I just sent you a Friend request. I co-moderate 2 Groups on Facebook – Media Ecology and MARSHALL MCLUHAN. I also co-moderate the Media Ecology Association Page. I invite you to join us by joining these groups and page. My good friend Paolo Granata, from Bologna and the University of Bologna, but just recently appointed to the University of Toronto, recently published the first book in Italian on media ecology. See http://www.ecologiadeimedia.it/english/. Your views seem very compatible with media ecology teaches. Let’s keep in touch……Alex

  20. Thanks, Jessica, but I need to know which Jessica you are. I presently have 2 Jessicas in my COML 509 class. Your blog looks good. It wasn’t hard to set up, was it?……AlexK


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