Assignment For Jan. 11th


Today we will look at the pathfinding work of two well-known philosophers of media: Marshall McLuhan and Alvin Toffler.


Marshall McLuhan developed his innovative theories about media while teaching in Toronto in the 1960's. He is responsible for many of the terms and phrases which have become part of our media lexicon, such as "Global Village", "Hot and Cold Media", and "The Medium is the Message". The growth of the Internet has led to renewed interest in McLuhan, as media observers attempt to apply his theories to this revolutionary new communications medium.


To investigate McLuhan, we'd like you to consult two interactive McLuhan web sites. Their internet addresses are:


At the CIOS site, enter the PROBE area and examine McLuhan's ideas on Time & Space, Culture & Technology, Figure & Ground, and Convergence. This site is designed to allow you to browse around and structure your own learning experience.


At the second site, examine the concepts of the Global Village, Hot and Cold Media, and Media as Extensions of Human Faculties. Note how the site author relates these concepts to the World Wide Web. You should be able to browse both of these sites in an hour or less.


We'd also like you to skim three chapters from McLuhan's seminal work, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, which you will receive in handout on Monday:


Alvin Toffler is less an original thinker than a great synthesizer. A journalist by profession, he formed his worldview by interviewing scientists, academics, and political and social thinkers from all over the world. In three books written over twenty years - Future Shock, The Third Wave, and Powershift - he developed a grand vision of how the Communications Revolution would usher in a new era of human history.


In Toffler's Third Wave, we'd like you to read the following chapters, which you'll also receive in handout:


We know this is a heavy load, and we expect that you'll only be able to skim this material. But try to cover as much of it as time allows. Both McLuhan's and Toffler's books are on reserve in the library, for those who want to get a jump on this reading over the weekend (which is strongly advised)


In your daily response paper, just write one long paragraph each on McLuhan and Toffler, explaining what you see as the main principles of their theories, including the terminology which is central to their ideas.