Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Wave of the Future: Revisiting Marshall McLuhan

Audio (mp3, 1:39)

This seminar by Paul Schumann will be held on February 15, 2007 begining at 4:30 p.m. (CST). It will be held online in the OPAL Auditorium. There is no charge and there is no registration. The seminar will last two hours.

You will need a PC with Internet Explorer, and speakers. A microphone (available for less than $15 at most computer stores) is optional. With a microphone you will be able to interact verbally. Without it, you will still be able to interact through text. If this is the first time you have used this virtual room, you will need to download some software so you may want to allow yourself a few minutes before the event begins. If you have any questions, e-mail Paul Schumann or call 512.302.1935.

Click here to participate in the seminar a few minutes before the start of the session. You will be taken to the registration for the Texas Forums OPAL Auditorium. You will be asked to enter the name that you wished used in the seminar. (If you are asked for a pasword, just skip.)

This event is sponsored by Texas Forums, Taylor Willingham

Marshall McLuhan (1911 – 1980) was a Canadian educator, philosopher, scholar, academic, professor of English literature, communications theorist and one of the founders of the study of media ecology.

McLuhan's most widely known work, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, is a pioneering study in media ecology. In it McLuhan proposes that media themselves, not the content they carry, should be the focus of study -- popularly quoted as the medium is the message. More controversially, he postulates that content has little effect on society. He notes that all media have characteristics that engage the viewer in different ways.

McLuhan began his study of media with work on advertising that culminated in his book The Mechanical Bride. He was an academic who refused to act like one. He was criticized for his use of media to get his message out, an undeserved criticism. He felt strongly about the necessity for everyone to 'wake up' and become aware of the invisible effects of media, not the message, on our culture. He was not a critic or an advocate of the changes he was describing. He was like an artist trying to show others what he saw.

McLuhan was a poet and philosopher, not a scientist. He was similar to Lucretius who wrote an epic poem describing his philosophy of the world. His writing is dense, with references to a vast amount of knowledge not possessed by the ordinary reader and filled with poetics, making his work difficult to understand.

His insights into the effects of media are extremely valuable to us today. What he wrote about 40 to 50 years ago is a guide to understanding what is happening now.

This seminar will begin with a description of some of McLuhan's observations - the medium is the message, hot and cool media, pre-literate to literate to post literate, my interpretation of the characteristics of the post literate society, and the four laws. It will close with a discussion of the wave of the future.

Paul Schumann is a practicing futurist with expertise in creativity and innovation. He has lived long enough to see forecasts fail and succeed, including some of his own. He had a thirty year career with IBM in three very different arenas - as a technologist and technology manager in semiconductor technology, as an internal entrepreneur creating the first independent business unit within IBM, and as a cultural change agent developing a more creative and innovative culture. Since retiring from IBM he has been consultant as a business futurist with programs in creativity and innovation. He is the founding president of the Central Texas Chapter of the World Future Society. And he the founder of the Innovation Commons Network ( More information about Paul can be found on his web sites - and