Things We Love and Love to Hate About Marshall McLuhan

"Things We Love and Love to Hate About Marshall McLuhan (and cybernetics)" is a lecture by Arjen Mulder, organized as part of the "Blowup: We Are All Crew" program to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of Marshall McLuhan’s birth. Comments and remarks by Derrick Dekerckhove the former dir. of the McLuhan Program at the university in Toronto.

Things We Love and Love to Hate About Marshall McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan, portrait by Yousuf Karsh*

Nov 2011
19:00 to 20:30
location: V2_, Eendrachtsstraat 10, Rotterdam

Marshall McLuhan's most widely quoted statement “the medium is the message” is a pun on the information theory of cybernitician Claude E. Shannon of the 1940's. Shannon was the first to come up with the classical scheme of communication, according to which a message is sent through a medium to a receiver, losing and gaining information in the process of transmission. McLuhan knew and was influenced by Shannon's work, even though he didn't understand the mathematics nor the military background of Shannon's concepts. However, McLuhan gave a unique twist to cybernetics by translating Shannon's information concept into the idea of hot and cool media, their impact and the quality of the information environment they generate. 

In this lecture, Arjen Mulder will dive into early cybernetics and show how McLuhan managed to draw out the venom of Shannon's information concept. Using early cybernetics as a springboard, McLuhan conceived ideas that are still very useful in the information age – and that we all love and love to hate. Afterwards Derrick de Kerckhove, former director of the McLuhan Program at the University of Toronto, will have a conversation with Arjen about the work of McLuhan.


Things We Love and Love to Hate About Marshall McLuhan with Arjen Mulder (2011) from V2_ on Vimeo.




The Ballad of Marshall McLuhan from Randall Acronym on Vimeo

Further reading

Marshall McLuhan - Understanding Media
Claude Shannon - The Mathematical Theory of Communication

*Portrait of Marshall McLuhan by Yousuf Karsh, http://karsh.org



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