Tag Archives: global village

Person of the Year

I caught the cover art of the recent Time magazine piece calling out the “Protester” as its “Person of the Year” and thought it was very cool. For the second time in this new century this long-time bulwark of the Eastern U.S. establishment has gone against its longstanding elitist tradition of calling out a member (or at least a darling) of the elite as its (once “Man” and now) “Person of the Year”. You may recall back in 2006 when “You” were the “Person of the Year”, Time‘s nod to the growth and importance of the Internet and the egalitarian social networking it fosters.

My understanding is that Time magazine has always represented the world view and biases of its founder Henry Luce and his second wife and successor, Clare Boothe Luce. Stalwarts of a moneyed New York establishment, Republican in that old school Nelson Rockefeller or Henry Cabot Lodge sort of thinking, prior to that farther right drift of the GOP starting with Goldwater in the 1960s to the various incarnations of the political right today.

I remember my mom, who was a Democrat and feminist activist in the 1960s and 70s, telling me that she always read Time to see what the other side was thinking. (One of many bits of wisdom she gave me – putting yourself in the shoes of your adversary to more effectively challenge that adversary.) So my mom, were she still alive and ticking today, would certainly alert me to take note of this new perhaps more egalitarian nod from one of the champion voices of the elite.

I for one would like to see this new century be all about “us”, the regular folks of the world, rather than “them”… highlighted members of some defined elite or even the iconic leaders (like Barak Obama for example) that may rise out of “us” but then grab the spotlight to lead and perhaps vicariously represent our aspirations. To the extent that people in the U.S. still live vicariously through celebrities – whether politicians, sports figures, media stars, etc. – I’m so ready for all of us to move beyond that! We can move our society forward without having to put so much stock in the beneficence of our anointed superstars! Continue reading →

Mud Wrestling with McLuhan Part 3 – Youth and Education

In my previous pieces based on Playboy magazine’s extensive 1969 interview with Marshall McLuhan, I looked first at McLuhan’s ideas on how revolutions in our communication technology – particularly the inventions of phonetic literacy, later printing, and most recently electronic media – have fundamentally changed how we perceive the world and thus organize our society. Second, I focused on his idea that people who have grown up in an age using electronic media – radio, movies, television, computers and now the Internet – are becoming in his words “post-literate” and “retribalizing”, which involves moving away from individualism and back to a more collective experience of the world.

For my fellow Baby-boomers, this post-literate retribalization would be most stereotypically seen in the whole hippie subculture with its at times paradoxical conformist non-conformity, including the whole sex, drugs, rock and roll, long hair, bell-bottoms and tie dye thing, the collective focus on “peace, love, joy” and sense of solidarity, as the band The Who sang, “talkin bout my g-g-g-generation”. Think thousands of young people at an anti-war rally holding hands and singing in unison, “All we are saying is give peace a chance”.

For my kids in the Millennial generation, with their developmental milieu of computers, cell phones and the Internet, their “hive mind” of connections with each other through their ubiquitous electronic devices would seem the most obvious evidence of perhaps an even higher level of the same retribalization. A blank stare at times to their parents or other adults, masking a complicated web of virtual “kinship” with each other.

So in this third installment of my messy tussle with the ideas of this “metaphysician of media”, I want to look at the issues he raises regarding the development of retribalized youth in a culture that still has not come to grips with its post-literate zeitgeist. My fellow Baby-boomers these days cavalierly throw around the term “gone viral” like we’re still hip and all, but I don’t think we fully understand what it means when our entire culture is in the grips of such virtual infections spread by our ubiquitous electronic media.

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Mud Wrestling with McLuhan Part 2 – Retribalization

So following up on my first piece on the subject, I continue my metaphorical mud wrestle with the outside the box ideas of the coiner of the term “Global Village”, Marshall McLuhan. I almost had the occasion to meet the man in Toronto in 1970, since he was a collaborator and friend of my mom’s best friend Mary Jane Shoultz, one of my “Feminist Aunts”. Though I missed that opportunity, Mary Jane regaled me with his ideas over the years of my older youth, and I must say they resonated with my own emerging view of the world as a kid growing up in the age of electronic media.

What recently rekindled my intimate tangle with McLuhan’s ideas was a link shared with me to his extensive 1969 interview in Playboy Magazine, which I had never read, probably focused at that age on the magazine’s other featured content! In my first piece on the interview, I focused on his ideas on how revolutions in communication technology – particularly, phonetic literacy, printing and now electronic media – have successively transformed human culture.

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Mud Wrestling with Marshall McLuhan

Well… mud wrestling in a sort of metaphorical way. My latest attempt to embrace and wrestle to the ground his at times elliptical ideas, with the title of this piece my homage to an outside-the-box thinker and crafter of provocative aphorisms like “the medium is the message”, its corollary, “the medium is the massage”, and the “Global Village”.

Though I only came close to meeting him once, I learned about McLuhan’s ideas through a dear family friend and one-time McLuhan collaborator, Mary Jane Shoultz, who I willingly let regale me with the synthesis of their radical thinking during my teen years in the 1970s. Mary Jane meshed McLuhan’s ideas on how we are profoundly impacted by our communication technology with her own radical feminist thought to come up with such provocative concepts as “spliteracy” and “patriarchal pimperialism”. She was my favorite “Feminist Aunt”, and beyond my own mom (Jane Roberts) probably had more influence on my own developing world view than anyone else in my youth.

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Browse and Ye Shall Find

More and more each day I am convinced that the Internet represents a profound new technology that will transform human society and give us the opportunity to make a quantum leap in the evolution of our species. Just as the printing press and movable type helped transform the Medieval world into the Modern world, and catalyzed the Protestant Revolution (implementing Christianity 2.0 the home edition), the Internet seems to be catalyzing something equally profound, though perhaps only beginning to take shape.

Just as printing technology had a major impact on the practice on the Christian religion, the Internet seems very likely to have an equally game-changing affect on contemporary religious and spiritual practice. Simplistically the Reformation was all about creating new denominations of Christianity that featured (from an information infrastructure point of view) removal of gatekeepers (priests) and direct access to the underlying information (the now ubiquitously available printed Bible). A person need only own or have access to and read that Bible to have all the wisdom they needed to live an ethical life.

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