Assignment #2 Katherine Yi Team 6

Thesis: In McLuhan’s interview he uses critical perspective to prove that medium is the message.

McLuhan quotes “McLuhan contends that all media—in and of themselves and regardless of the messages they communicate—exert a compelling influence on man and society.” This is a quote from the interviewer, Phillip Rogaway. Careless oversight – it would have been odd for McLuhan to refer to himself in the third-person. is whole idea is that media influences all of society today, and that is true. However, the way we receive the information is more important than the information itself, and this is where his famous quote comes from, “Medium is the message.”

McLuhan questioned commonly held assumptions when the in regards to the introduction of the phonetic alphabet was created. However, he questioned it In what way did he ‘question’ the phonetic alphabet? Awkward writing. and states that it was not progress, but a psychic and social disaster. McLuhan stresses that the phonetic alphabet was a mistake and a disaster; he then explains how the alphabet was a mistake. “It try to avoid value judgments in these areas, but there is much evidence to suggest that man may have paid too dear a price for his new environment of specialist technology and values. Schizophrenia and alienation may be the inevitable consequences of phonetic literacy.” This is to misunderstand the nuance of McLuhan’s argument. He didn’t judge the alphabet as a mistake per se, just argued that it completely transformed culture and society. He called this both progress and and a disaster, not just an unmitigated fiasco. The quote you cite comes from his examples of the consequences of literate society.  He states that there is evidence that man may have done too much to change for a new environment. Not clear what this means.

McLuhan does aim for the betterment of society; an example is when he mentions the current education system as “It’s a dying and outdated system founded on literate values and fragmented and classified data totally unsuited to the needs of the first television generation.” He then explains the ways on how we can fix it, but first we would have to acknowledge that we’ve been doing everything the wrong way. Then we can truly examine what is wrong with our education system and how we can improve on it. Then change the next generation of how they think and consume media.

“Why are you attempting to dispel it and alert man to the changes in his environment?” quoted by the interviewer. “I believe that our survival, and at the very least our comfort and happiness, is predicated on understanding the nature of our new environment, because unlike previous environmental changes, the electric media constitute a total and near-instantaneous transformation of culture, values and attitudes” said McLuhan. This is an example when McLuhan expands the bounds of debate. He wants us to become self-aware of our environment and the changes that are happening, and if not, we’ll become “self-induced” slaves. He wants people to understand the transformation of the media, so we can anticipate and control it. Instead of getting caught up and not doing anything with the media’s information. This is also an example of him explaining “medium is the message”. How? Don’t really see the connection here.

McLuhan uses critical perspective in his thinking by using the characteristics mentioned before. He questions commonly held assumptions, expands the bounds of debate and aim for the betterment of society. He does all these things to prove he uses critical perspective.

Analysis is decent overall, but there is very little analysis of ‘the medium is the message’ as is asked by the assignment. It’s only ever mentioned in passing in the first and second-to-last paragraph.


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