Creative Commons licensed photograph, "Underwood," by Flickr user Canned Muffins

Understanding McLuhan and Liu

Media Messages

To begin our thinking about media in this class we read Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message” (1964) and Alan Liu’s “Imagining the New Media Encounter” (2012), two essays separated by nearly 50 years. Our prompt will start with McLuhan, who has been very influential for scholars of digital media but who largely did not write about computers and passed away in 1980, well before the world wide web. During our discussion we’ll introduce some of Liu’s critiques of McLuhan, but for now I want you to channel McLuhan to think about a more recent medium of your choosing. Pick a specific digital medium and help us understand what its messages might be. How is your medium an “extension of ourselves,” what “new scale” does it “introduce…into our affairs,” and what how do those changes restructure “human work and association?”