Marshall McLuhan, January 21, 1967, photo by Yousuf Karsh (c)

Marshall McLuhan — Prophet of the Internet

Everyone assumes that a tool is just a tool and that’s that. You use it to fulfill a certain function, to assist in a task which the human body could not complete on its own. Tools act as extensions of our body and communications technologies are tools which are extensions of our central nervous system, helping us transmit thoughts, ideas, and gain a greater awareness of things outside of our immediate experience. Language itself is an extraordinary tool which has had a profound impact on the development of our human consciousness although, it seems we don’t really think too much about the impact that tools we use to communicate our language have on our consciousness.

A communications theorist and philosopher by the name of Marshall McLuhan was first to truly realize the impact of the tools themselves apart from the function they perform. He analyzed media in relation to awareness and the senses which certain tools or mediums demanded of the media consumer. This was a revolutionary way of looking at communications because, up until McLuhan, everyone was discussing the media’s effect in relation to the content’s message. During the rise of electronic media such as radio and television, people debated the implications of the spreading of mass messages. Did TV have a negative effect from its broadcasting of vulgar and violent programs, or did it have an enlightening effect because of the informative news outlets and nature documentaries? McLuhan argued that the effect of the media’s content is trivial compared to the effect of the medium in which the content is being delivered. The medium is what really makes the difference because of the awareness which it conditions. Watching a TV program is a much different experience than reading a book, it requires the participation of different senses, and therefore molds perception and changes sensory ratios.

McLuhan’s focus on the sensory perception was the core interest which underlined all of his theories on the effects of media. He viewed all media as an extension of the central nervous system. He saw that the invention of the alphabet caused an intensification of the visual sense as it is relative to auditory sense from the previous form of communication which was spoken word. The shifting priority of senses due to the mediums had an immeasurably powerful effect on society and the way reality is viewed. This is the main idea behind his popular aphorism “the medium is the message.”                                                                                                                                ……….
McLuhan’s investigation into the history of communications from an anthropological perspective is what, I believe, allowed him to predict our current media environment so accurately. He was able to predict the Internet nearly 30 years before its arrival. He wrote in 1962 “The next medium, whatever it is — it may be the extension of consciousness — will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual’s encyclopedic function and flip it into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind.” Translated to account for modern day internet lingo this description is hauntingly accurate”…  Read the rest at https://tinyurl.com/y3sypy2d

Editorial Note: This is not a bad essay, except that this author has not checked his primary sources to see if McLuhan actually wrote that quote. Although yes, he did, the two sentences that comprise the quote are a mashup of his quotes from two different books.

“The next medium, whatever it is — it may be the extension of consciousness — will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form.” – Marshall McLuhan, “The Invisible Environment: The Future of an Erosion.” Perspecta, Vol. 11 (1967) pp. 162–167. Published by MIT Press.

“A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual’s encyclopedic function and flip into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind.” – From a 1978 dialogue between Marshall McLuhan and Bruce Powers titled “Angels to Robots: From Euclidean Space to Einsteinian Space, in The  Global Village’ (1989) by Marshall McLuhan and Bruce Powers, p. 143.


The graphic designer Quentin Fiore in an undated photograph. In the 1960s he collaborated with Marshall McLuhan, Jerry Rubin and Buckminster Fuller. Credit: Fiore Family

By Katharine Q. Seelye   –   May 1, 2019

Bianca Fiore La Porta, his daughter, said the cause was complications of bronchitis.

Mr. Fiore spent much of his career doing conventional design work for large corporations and book jackets for university presses. But he was best known for his book collaborations in the 1960s with McLuhan, the communications theorist, and later with the antiwar activist Jerry Rubin and the inventor and visionary Buckminster Fuller.

By the time of their collaboration, McLuhan had already coined the phrase “the medium is the message” in his book “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man” (1964). His point was that the medium in which we acquire information is more important than the information itself. He was speaking chiefly of television and the neurological and temperamental effects of its mosaic of dots and lights on the viewer, but he later enjoyed a revival as an oracle of the cyber age.

Mr. Fiore’s first book with McLuhan was “The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects” (1967). “Massage” was a printer’s error, but McLuhan, a wordsmith who delighted in puns, liked the typo and kept it, believing that it amplified his theory about how different forms of media thoroughly “massage” the senses in the “mass age” of communications.

The book, which Mr. Fiore initiated, was a kinetic interpretation of McLuhan’s philosophy. Some pages were printed backward, to be read in a mirror. Some of the writing was upside down. Some pages contained text superimposed over pictures.

Mr. Fiore said his goal was to reduce “complex ideas to simple signs, glyphs, patches of text.” One of his inspirations was the “long and sad tale” told by a mouse in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” the words rendered in the shape of a tail.

He wanted his style to “convey the spirit, the ‘populist’ outcry of the era,” Mr. Fiore said in a 1992 interview with the designer and writer J. Abbott Miller. “The linearity of the text in an average book wouldn’t do. After all, the medium was the message!”

The result was revolutionary in terms of design.

“Fiore took an intensely active role in making McLuhan’s fundamental ideas accessible to an increasingly visually literate audience,” the designer Steven Heller, a former art director for The New York Times Book Review, said in an email.  Read the rest at https://tiny.cc/jcp15y

Read also on this blog McLuhan’s Most Innovative Book: The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (1967) – https://tiny.cc/41p15y


This unique book is about our media-saturated world today…

We’re immersed in a radical transformation of consciousness and sensibility through the advent of digital communications’ technologies. Everything is in heightened conditions of emergent flux and speed, of spiritual emergency. Responding to the transformations, this word-image work seeks the heartbeat inside the Genesis overdrive of our present. It’s a book of pulses and intuitions expressed in prose and poetry, street art and images, all of which record and reflect our deepening engulfment in manifesting generations of electricity. This book is about the charging of our time, and our charge for perceiving. 

The global membrane is an evolutionary jump from the global village and global theatre into sensory, psychic alteration in which communications bring us at once closer and into sharp, painful divisions. A time of openings—expressions of humane empathy: a time of terrified, terrorizing closings—reactions against uprooting of what we know. Ecology, the afflictions of the Trump phenomenon, the quick-time evolutions of the internet, the rush of data influx, the upsurges in Nationalism, Trolls and Hackers, spiritual distress, crises of identity and A-literacy, #MeToo, the Netgens, the search for silence and rest, the intimations of a worldwide linked consciousness, the transfiguration of digital experience into cellular intimacies and addictions, the crying out of souls longing to grasp and express this dislocating jump-drive and its illuminating hopes, the shape-shifting artistic expressions of the current: all are elements of what we experience.

  • Are you Human? An invitation says on the internet. If so then click here…
  • How do we penetrate the screens and perceive what’s churning out from us and into us?
  • How do we catch the streaming, the breakdowns breakthroughs, the yearnings, the fears of the present?
  • How to describe this inescapable process, the unfolding, our transformations, the devastations, our longing, the effects of hyperdrive?
  • It’s hard to understand radical change when change is erupting in front of you; and when that charge wholly absorbs your attention and sensibility.     
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Join us at the Book Launch for B.W. Powe’s new book, “The Charge in the Global Membrane” –

Date And Time: Sat, 11 May 2019, 2:00 PM  –  Location: The Village Hive, 55 Albert St, Markham, Ontario L3P 2T4        View Map

REGISTER HERE: https://tinyurl.com/y5cq4t7u

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Style and form…
This book is written in the streams of the new, pulling in its vibrations and alarms, its wonders and dislocations, the crystalline phenomena of what blazes at us all-at-once.  In its streaming and feeds you’ll find Donald Trump, the Gaia Principle, cellphones, social media and trolls existing side by side with street art, and with William Blake, Arthur Rimbaud, Simone Weil, Marshall McLuhan, Teilhard de Chardin, Susan Howe, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, David Bowie, Joni Mitchell.  It’s a collage-mosaic that absorbs speculations on force and energy, the poetry of theological concern, direct addresses to the reader (breaking the fourth wall), aphorisms, traces and fragments…

Genre – All of them.

The Street art images selected by Marshall Soules…                                                  “Part of a larger documentary (ethnographic) project, the images of street art were photographed as they were found in various cities on particular days. Often, they are the result of collective creativity illustrating the Charge in the streets, and credit for their creation remains with the original artists. I hope these images will provide wider exposure to artists and allow them to spread their news and views.”

Selected Reviews…

“If Marshall McLuhan were to rejoin us today, he would be stunned at how much has changed so quickly. Powe’s Membrane text does the update exactly as McLuhan would. The art work by Marshall Soules is nothing short of amazing.” – W. Terrence Gordon, author of Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding, dramatist and essayist

“B. W. Powe’s The Charge in the Global Membrane is a much-needed intervention in our moment of cultural opening troubled by opposing forces seeking to halt the movement. Ranging from ancient literature and history to space travel, ecological crises, science fiction movies, and the current political turmoil around the globe, this powerful book discloses interconnections among all of these phenomena”. – Jerry Harp, author of Spirit Under Construction


(1931 – 2019)

Birth: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dr. Gerald O’Grady was a legendary media scholar and former University at Buffalo professor of English, who led the media revolution in Buffalo in the early 1970s, making Buffalo among the first cities in the nation to create a public access center for film and video equipment and education.

Dr. O’Grady, an Oxford-educated medieval scholar, established the Center for Media Study at the University at Buffalo and Media Study/Buffalo as a not-for-profit image center for Western New York. While Media Study/Buffalo acquired and lent media equipment to novice and accomplished artists and documentarians, the Center for Media Study formed a creative ensemble of visiting artists to educate graduate students. A steady stream of internationally regarded guest lecturers found an anchor for their activities at the Center for Media Study with an equally regarded assembly of resident faculty-artists from every media discipline.

Gerald O’Grady’s first career was as a medievalist. After studying for a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin (1954-58), he was a Marshall Scholar at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, for the next three years, working with C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Beryl Smalley. He had a huge impact on culture in Buffalo and the world. He was a thought leader, it turned out, along with colleagues John McHale and Marshall McLuhan [he was hugely influenced by Marshall McLuhan]. The plowshare of his medievalist studies became the camera of a new media for the late twentieth century.

Before moving in 1967 to the State University of New York at Buffalo, he established a Media Center in Houston, Texas under the auspices of John and Dominique de Menil, reflecting his interest in the coming impact of technology on education (McLuhan) and his interest its reform. At that time, in film, there existed only graduate programs in production at NYU, UCLA and USC, and he began to explore curricula for the establishment of historical, interpretive and cultural studies in the field of media. He visited over 100 campuses to observe beginning courses and programs in film or cinema study and, to better understand existing institutional structures, taught seven courses at five different universities each week for the next three years, traveling more than 5000 miles each week between Buffalo, Austin, Texas (Department of Radio/Film/Television), Houston and New York City (Columbia University School of the Arts; New York University Department of Cinema Studies, and New School of Social Research Center for Understanding Media).

He established three new organizations, for all of which he simultaneously served as Director: (1) The Educational Communications Center at SUNY at Buffalo that served all of the media production and classroom exhibition needs of 128 departments and included management of the Public Radio Station, a studio transmitting engineering and business courses to industries on cable television, and the foreign language laboratory; (2) The Center for Media Study, an academic department that offered undergraduate and graduate degrees in film, video and digital production and in media interpretation; and (3) Media Study/Buffalo, a regional community development center that provided access to equipment, workshops and nightly exhibition of media to the Buffalo community.

Media Study/Buffalo was a free-standing public not-for-profit institution, independent from the University, of which he was founder and President of the Board. It provided job training for the unemployed and produced public service materials and other programs for community institutions and city/county/state agencies. Through Media Study/Buffalo he became the producer and host of programs to bring the works of independent media-makers to the attention of national television audiences (Film-Makers and The Frontier through WNED-17 PBS in Buffalo, and The Independents through The Learning Channel in Washington, D. C., which was the first satellite transmission of such works to cable and public stations).

He also was Project Director for two prize-winning documentaries for public television, America Lost and Found and The World of the Fair, both supported by The National Endowment for the Humanities. In all of these projects, the focus was on giving a voice to individuals who had not been heard, supporting a full participation of all persons in civil society and he brought together the finest film, sound and video artists in the world. Their presence in Buffalo helped transform an industrial city into one of higher education and cutting edge art.

During these same years, he served on the media panels of the New York State Council for the Arts, the New York Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and played a role in establishing the guidelines for the support of artists and scholars by each agency, while serving on national committees for the John and Mary Markle and Rockefeller Foundations to set priorities for support of national media resources and services.

Also during these years, he delivered through 1995 over 100 lectures on media pedagogy and the support of independent filmmakers to national and international audiences. In 1994 he became a Ford Foundation Fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute of Afro-American Research at Harvard, while consulting and teaching globally. (Source: https://goo.gl/weXgtQ)

“Literacy’s been with us now since the nineteenth century and is pretty much accepted to be a universal thrust. My own theory is that we should move towards what I call `mediacy.’ It’s a political issue: one cannot participate in society unless one can use the channels or codes of communication that are current in the time that one lives.” – Gerald O’Grady

Gerald O’Grady published his obituary of Marshall McLuhan in the Buffalo News on January 11, 1981 – “Throwing a Snowball with a Rock in It – A Momentum Mori for Marshall McLuhan.” See https://goo.gl/xEEiLq


In collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation

Wednesday, April 3rd, 6:00 PM

Mozilla Foundation
366 Adelaide St W Suite 500, Toronto

Everyone Welcome

“The Future of Artificial Intelligence (AI)” – McLuhan Salon, a dialogue with Mark Surman, Executive Director, Mozilla Foundation, and Rohinton Medhora, President, Centre for International Governance Innovation, moderated by David Nostbakken, President, CEO, McLuhan Foundation.

Presented by the St. Michael’s College – the McLuhan’s intellectual home in the University of Toronto – and its popular Book & Media Studies program, in conjunction with several high-level academic and cultural institutions, a new series of McLuhan Salons takes place from September 2018 to April 2019 in different dynamic city locations further dissolving the boundaries of the university and the city in bringing the multi-disciplinary multi-practice approaches to bear made famous by Marshall McLuhan.

The McLuhan Salon series is generously supported by the William and Nona Heaslip Foundation.

The event is free and open to the public.

* * *

About the McLuhan Salons: Inspired by the innovative thinking of Marshall McLuhan, the Salons series is committed to make McLuhan’s ideas step out of the university and into the city, to better understand who we are, what matters to us, and where we might be going in a networked and rapidly changing world.


Been Hoping We Might Meet Again

By Elaine Kahn 

Two Canadian Catholic 20th-century public intellectuals whose lives and ideas intersected in surprising ways. This collection of their entire correspondence – from 1968 to 1980 – shines a light on their friendship and mutual respect during a fascinating period when television ruled and the world was becoming a global village. Annotated by scholar Elaine Kahn, who encountered the work of both these thinkers as a teenage student, the letters are a window on ideas and concepts that shaped the world we know today.

Forward by Paolo Granata, Coordinator of the Book & Media Studies program at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto & Curator of the McLuhan Salons series.

Published by NOVALIS – Pub. date: 2019-03-01 –  No. of pages: 176 – ISBN: 9782896885886

The author Elaine Kahn explains what the book is about in this short 4-minute video:

Invitation to the Book Launch

TIME: 6pm to 7:30pm     –     DATE: Tuesday, April 16, 2019

LOCATION: Munk School of Global Affairs, 315 Bloor St. West, Toronto, ON

RSVP: louise.donkor@novalis.ca

Munk School


Click on the image to read the text

The J. R. de J. Jackson Lecture

91 Charles St. West, Victoria College Chapel
In the University of Toronto

Paula McDowell, English Dept., New York University

Paula McDowell specializes in eighteenth-century British studies, media history and theory, and the History of the Book. With the support of fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Society, the National Humanities Center, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, she has published The Women of Grub Street: Press, Politics and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace, 1678-1730 (Oxford, 1998), Elinor James: Printed Writings (Ashgate, 2005), and articles on subjects ranging from the epistemology of ephemera to models of the Enlightenment. Her most recent book, The Invention of the Oral: Print Commerce and Fugitive Voices in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Chicago, 2017), won the John Ben Snow Foundation Prize, awarded annually by the North American Conference on British Studies for the best book by a North American scholar on any aspect of British Studies from the middle ages to the eighteenth century. It examines the oral/literate binary as a heuristic — a tool for understanding that itself has a history — and argues that the concept of “oral culture” was, in fact, a back-formation of the explosion of print commerce. She is currently working on another archivally-based book, on the life, career, and reading and writing practices of the Canadian professor, scholar, and media theorist Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980).

Presented by the Book History and Print Culture program in association with the Friends of the Victoria University Library,  the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, and the Toronto Eighteenth Century Group.

For more information about the Toronto Eighteenth Century Group, see http://sites.utoronto.ca/tecg or contact Simon Dickie at simon.dickie@utoronto.ca

For more information about the Toronto Centre for the Book, see https://bhpctoronto.com/events/


Unfortunately, none of this information seems to have been disseminated in time from the folks at the University of Windsor to the McLuhan community of interest in and associated with the University of Toronto or elsewhere in Canada. It no doubt was shared with the McLuhan Centre, but that once authentic centre for McLuhan and related studies no longer offers McLuhan-specific programming and is consequently not supported by the McLuhan community of interest in Toronto.

FEEDBACK #4: Marshall McLuhan and the Arts, SoCA Gallery, 2019. Photo credit: Nadja Pelkey

University of Windsor, School of Creative Arts: 17 February 2019 – 9 March 2019
College for Creative Studies, Detroit: 15 February 2019 – 23 M
arch 2019

Marshall McLuhan was an academic and a historian of literature with a passion for slang word games and jokes whose audacious observations on media and technology made him one of the most famous public intellectuals of the 1960s and an icon of pop culture. And despite all the shock of the new, McLuhan’s approach remains as fresh and pertinent today as it was back then. Maybe now that the electronic environment has finally become second nature, we are able at last to encounter the importance of McLuhan’s practice.

Feedback: Marshall McLuhan and the Arts is a recursive series of exhibitions and symposia with a focus on McLuhan’s radical, experimental publication practice. A prototype for a new form of intellectual for the electronic age, McLuhan eschewed peer review and published his ideas experimentally, often collaboratively in the popular press, testing for reactions. This active “live scholarship” was roundly scorned by many of his academic colleagues, admiringly envious of the dynamism of his ideas and the seeming endless appetite for them in the mass media. McLuhan allowed himself to be taken up in the media, and the media rewarded him with fame.

Critical and concerned about the effects of new technologies, McLuhan found hope and even redemption in art’s capacity to catalyse and manifest the as-yet-invisible social and physiological implications of technological transformation. This is evidenced in the radical originality of his discursive language, replete with poetry and puns, and in projects which irreverently transgressed disciplinary conventions and taboos in order to elaborate vital exchanges between the specializations.

“To prevent undue wreckage in society, the artist tends now to move from the ivory tower to the control tower of society. Just as higher education is no longer a frill or luxury but a stark need of production and operational design in the electric age, so the artist is indispensable in the shaping and analysis and understanding of the life of forms, and structures created by electric technology.
… No society has ever known enough about its actions to have developed immunity to its new extensions or technologies. Today we have begun to sense that art may be able to provide such immunity.” –
McLuhan, Understanding Media, Chapter 7

This exhibition, anchored in archival material from McLuhan’s most daring projects, examines how contemporary artists fulfill McLuhan’s prescription, elaborating the feedback circuit between technology and its social matrix, to generate the techniques and capabilities needed to confront our most urgent challenges today.

In tune with notions of entanglement we receive from advanced physics, we no longer have access to an absolute outside from which we can observe and analyze our conditions. We need to learn to analyze while still being part of what we are trying to understand, and this, according to McLuhan, requires the skills and sensitivities of artists.

For Feedback #4 (Detroit) see https://goo.gl/ctPwzR

Conceived and curated by Baruch Gottlieb and Marie-José Sondeijker


Previous iterations of Feedback:

  • Feedback #1 (22.09.2017 – 19.11.2017), West Den Haag, The Hague, Netherlands
  • Feedback #2 (27.01 – 24.02.2018), EIGEN + ART Lab, Berlin, Germany
  • Feedback #3 (26.09.2018 – 06.01.2019), The ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany

Source: https://goo.gl/DoKtDb

Detroit above, Windsor below, the Detroit River in between

Click on image for expanded view

Cesar Hidalgo, director of the Collective Learning group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, would like you to know that Marshall McLuhan was right. And he has the datasets to prove it. In a new paper, “How the Medium Shapes the Message: Printing and the Rise of the Arts and Sciences,” named after the media philosopher’s renowned phrase, “the medium is the message,” Hidalgo and his MIT colleagues show that communication technologies, “from printing to social media, affect our historical records by changing the way ideas are spread and recorded.”

“We completely agree with McLuhan,” Hidalgo said to Nautilus.“ What he was saying was not that messages were irrelevant, but the medium by which they were transmitted was more consequential. The famous example is the Nixon and JFK debate. People who watched on TV thought the good-looking JFK won, and ones who listened on radio thought Nixon won. It was the same content but what people observed, or what they thought happened, was very different depending on the medium they were using. We found every communication technology changes the way in which we interact.”

Hidalgo and his colleagues composed the short video below to give props to McLuhan and show how mediums, from oral culture to printing to TV, transformed society. During the oral age, political and religious leaders were the talk of the town. But the advent of printing gave rise to artists and scientists, while TV spurred the rise of entertainment and sports heroes. Causation or correlation? Watch and read the MIT group’s work to find out.             

A related study:-

The Medium Shapes the Message: New Communication Technologies May Bias Historical Record

The introduction of communication technologies appears to bias historical records in the direction of the content best suited for each technology, according to a study published February 20, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by C. Jara-Figueroa and colleagues from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.

Studying the societal impact of new communication technologies is challenging, due to limited data on historical events as well as the difficulty of parsing observed correlations. The authors of this study used a dataset of almost 14,000 biographies, classified by primary occupation on Wikipedia or Wikidata. They analysed the impact of the printing press, radio, and television, on the biographical content that was recorded following their introduction. They found that the introduction of printing (1450-1880) was associated with an increase in the number of painters, composers, and scientists recorded in Wikipedia’s biographical records, as well as a decrease in religious figures. 
Cities thought to be early adopters of printing were more likely to be the birthplace of recorded scientists and artists than cities which adopted printing later.
The introduction of radio (1880-1950) was associated with a significant shift towards the performing arts in Wikipedia’s biographical records. Finally, with the introduction of television (1950-2000), the authors found an increase in recorded sports players and a further increase in the number of performing artists.
The authors believe their results may indicate that historical figures whose work was best suited to available media — for example, musicians for radio, and sportspeople for television, were most likely to be recorded in historical records.
The authors emphasize that their data relies largely on Wikipedia, a community-edited resource, and also note that the memorability and fame of recent individuals is prone to change over time. However, they note this indication that prevalent communication technologies rapidly affect the biographies present in our modern digital historical records warrants further investigation–and may contain clues to the “heroes” we will produce for future historical records.
The authors add: “[Marshall] McLuhan was right! A team of MIT researchers used big data to study the effect of communication technologies on collective memory. They found that new communication technologies change the occupations of people who achieved global fame”.  (Source: https://goo.gl/VZ3GfC)

Marshall McLuhan anticipated that learning and work would become increasingly interrelated: “… it is becoming clear that the main “work” of the future will be education, that people will not so much earn a living as learn a living…. Industry and the military, as well as the arts and sciences, are beginning to consider education their main business” (McLuhan & Leonard, 1967, 25). In this, he was in agreement with and possibly influenced by his friend and colleague Peter Drucker, who coined the phrase “knowledge worker” in his 1959 book Landmarks of Tomorrow, writing in his 1994 essay The Age of Social Transformation

The great majority of the new jobs require qualifications the industrial worker does not possess and is poorly equipped to acquire.  They require a good deal of formal education and the ability to acquire and to apply theoretical and analytical knowledge.  They require a different approach to work and a different mind-set.  Above all, they require a habit of continuous learning.  Displaced industrial workers thus cannot simply move into knowledge work or services the way displaced farmers and domestic workers (the dominant jobs at the turn of the last century – R.M) moved into industrial work.  At the very least they have to change their basic attitudes, values, and beliefs”. 

Here are some additional McLuhan quotes on Learning a Living to drive home the point:

“The business community itself is becoming more and more a community of learning and of relearning, so that the huge industry expenditure on education today arises from a constant need to keep executives apprised of new information necessary for decision-making. And this is characteristic of all people in business, no matter what stage or level they are operating at, so that learning and the absorption of information in business itself has become a major part of the business operation”. – (1958, December). Culture is Our Business: The Meaning of the New Electronic Media. National Association of Educational Broadcasters journal, p. 4

“Already it is becoming clear that the main “work” of the future will be education, that people will not so much earn a living as learn a living. Close to 30 million people in the U.S. are now pursuing some form of adult education, and the number shoots skyward. Industry and the military, as well as the arts and sciences, are beginning to consider education their main business.”McLuhan, M. & Leonard, G. (1967). The Future of Education: The Class of 1989. LOOK  Magazine. Feb. 21, 1967, p. 25.

“Men could, for the most part, get through a normal life span on the basis of a single set of skills. That is not at all the case with electric speed-up. The acquiring of new basic knowledge and skill by senior executives in middle age is one of the most common needs and harrowing facts of electric technology. The senior executives, or “big wheels,” as they are archaically and ironically designated, are among the hardest pressed and most persistently harassed groups in human history. Electricity has not only demanded ever deeper knowledge and faster interplay, but has made the harmonizing of production schedules as rigorous as that demanded of the members of a large symphony orchestra.” – Understanding Media (1964), p. 355

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‘Learning a living’ becoming critical as technology displaces workers

Employers and employees need to prepare for automation and its aftermath, experts say

By Terry Pender   –   Jan. 29, 2018

As work is automated more jobs will be created that require different skills, and corporations that want to thrive must help their employees prepare.

That message was delivered by David Mallon, chief analyst at Bersin, Deloitte Consulting, during a Skype presentation Tuesday that kicked off The Future of Work and Learning, a series of events and workshops organized by Manulife, Communitech, the University of Waterloo and Deloitte.

Big data, analytics and artificial intelligence are expected to displace large numbers of workers in sectors of the economy that so far have largely been untouched by automation. Estimates vary, but it is expected technology will displace millions of Canadian workers in the next 12 years.

“How can we ensure our region can continue to grow and thrive?” Michael Doughty, chief executive officer of Manulife Canada, said while introducing Mallon.

Over the next four months a series of workshops and events will explore how work and workplaces are changing, and how employees and employers can best adapt. To drive home his message of change, Mallon used a phrase from Canadian information theorist Marshall McLuhan — the future of work is about “learning a living.”

Mallon, who is based in Seattle, said studies in the United Kingdom by Deloitte looked at sectors of the economy before and after widespread automation. One of the main observations is that just about every job was impacted in some way even if it was not eliminated. Source: https://goo.gl/PYiL5g

Robots in an automobile assembly plant