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The Global Village

Marshall McLuhan's posthumous The Global Village, co-authored by Bruce Powers, explores the new "laws" of media, "laws" fostering a dramatic collision of viewpoints. The first based on Visual Space - the linear, quantitative mode of perception characteristic of the Western world is preserved by the medium of print. While the second, based on Acoustic Space - the holistic, qualitative reasoning of the East - is being fostered by television, the technologies of the data base, communication satallites, and the globalmedia network. McLuhan and Powers offer the 'Tetrad' as a four part structure of analysis for relieving the outcome of this collision. By focusing on four questions - What does this new medium enhance? What does it render obsolete? What does it retrieve that was long ago pushed aside? And what does it produce or become when extended beyond the limits of its potential? - one can postulate the cultural life of an arifact in advance by showing how a total saturated use would produce a reversal of the original intent. For example, money converted into credit cards: the telephone to the omnipresence of teleconferencing; or the high-rise apartment building: enhancing privacy, rendering community obsolete, retrieving the catacombs, and reversing into a slum. McLuhan's insights, his aphorisms, and his legacy as "the man behind the message", make The Global Village excellent reading for anyone interested in the shaping power of communication technology.
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About the Author

Marshall McLuhan, who died in 1980, taught at St. Michael's College, the University of Toronto. His books The Gutenberg Galaxy and Understanding Media established his international reputation as a communications theorist and made him one of the most famous and controversial scholars of the 1960s and '70s. Bruce R. Powers, a longtime friend and collaborator of McLuhan's, is Associate Professor of English and Communication Studies at Niagara University.


Weighted with technobabble, McLuhan's fervent forecast of a computer-linked global village flies in the face of political realities: ``Mass, spontaneous electronic referendums will sweep across continents. The concept of nationalism will fade. . . . '' A ``new tribalism'' with ``centers everywhere and margins nowhere'' will flourish, and books will be obsolete, or nearly so, by the 21st century, the authors of this futurist tract further assert. McLuhan collaborated on this study with Powers, a communications professor at Niagara University in New York, who completed the manuscript after the media guru's death. Contrasting the ``visual space'' mediated by sequential, left-brain thought processes with the ``acoustic space'' called into being by the pattern-producing right brain hemisphere, the authors put forth catchy but unsubstantiated generalizations about the Oriental mind, Russians, the U.S. economy, entrepreneurship and electronic media. McLuhan's concept of the ``tetrad,'' a four-part intuitive structure rooted in figure-ground relationships, is used here as a predictive tool to gauge the impact of emerging information technologies. (Apr.)

This is not a revised or updated version of McLuhan's Understanding Media ( LJ 6/1/64) or even War and Peace in the Global Village (LJ 11/1/68). It was written, according to Powers, between 1974 and 1980 (McLuhan died in 1980) and ``put together'' between 1976 and 1984. McLuhan's thesis has always been that electronic technologies have been altering and reconstituting people in ways they don't understand and causing them to lose their private identities. This book probes the same theme from different angles, but with the same McLuhanesque all-over-the-place reasoning. Powers seems to have had a leavening effect on the master's breathless prose and extravagant presentation. The book should provoke people to think, if nothing else. For McLuhan collectors. See also Philip Marchand's Marshall McLuhan and George Sanderson and Frank Macdonald's retrospective, reviewed in this issue, p. 75.-- A.J. Anderson, G.S.L.I.S., Simmons Coll., Boston

studded with the controversial genius, insight and originality for which McLuhan was famous * Telecommunications Policy * Highly readable and valuable ... I would unreservedly recommend [this] book as the best available information to and summary of McLuhan's thinking. * Journal of Communication *

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