In the last twenty years of his life, Marshall McLuhan published a series of books that established his reputation as a world-renowned communications theorist and the pre-eminent seer of the modern age. It was McLuhan who made the distinction between "hot" and "cool" media. And it was he who coined the phrases "the medium is the message" and "the global village" and popularized other memorable terms including "feedback" and "iconic."
McLuhan was far more than a pithy phrasemaker, however. He foresaw the development of personal computers at a time when computers were huge, unwieldy machines available only to institutions. He anticipated the wide-ranging effects of the Internet. And he understood, better than any of his contemporaries, the transformations that would be wrought by digital technology—in particular, the globalization of communications and the instantaneous-simultaneous nature of the new, electric world. In many ways, we're still catching up to him—forty years after the publication of Understanding Media.
In Understanding Me, Stephanie McLuhan and David Staines have brought together nineteen previously unpublished lectures and interviews either by or with Marshall McLuhan. They have in common the informality and accessibility of the spoken word. In every case, the text has been transcribed from the original audio, film, or videotape of McLuhan's actual appearances. This is not what McLuhan wrote but what he said—the spoken words of a surprisingly accessible public man. He comes across as outrageous, funny, perplexing, stimulating, and provocative. McLuhan will never seem quite the same again.
The foreword by Tom Wolfe provides a twenty-first century perspective on McLuhan's life and work, and co-editor David Staines's insightful afterword offers a personal account of McLuhan as teacher and friend.
with a new introduction by Lewis H. Lapham This reissue of Understanding Media marks the thirtieth anniversary (1964-1994) of Marshall McLuhan's classic expose on the state of the then emerging phenomenon of mass media. Terms and phrases such as "the global village" and "the medium is the message" are now part of the lexicon, and McLuhan's theories continue to challenge our sensibilities and our assumptions about how and what we communicate.There has been a notable resurgence of interest in McLuhan's work in the last few years, fueled by the recent and continuing conjunctions between the cable companies and the regional phone companies, the appearance of magazines such as WiRed, and the development of new media models and information ecologies, many of which were spawned from MIT's Media Lab. In effect, media now begs to be redefined. In a new introduction to this edition of Understanding Media, Harper's editor Lewis Lapham reevaluates McLuhan's work in the light of the technological as well as the political and social changes that have occurred in the last part of this century.