Marshall McLuhan’s prophecy of a Global Village

“After three thousand years of explosion, by means of fragmentary and mechanical technologies, the Western world is imploding. During the mechanical ages we had extended our bodies in space. Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned. As electrically contracted, the globe is no more than a village.” – McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, pp. 11-12.

Marshall McLuhan was right, in fact he still is. The Canadian media theorist like no other predicted nearly 50 years ago the emergence of a global village, a world linked through electronic information. McLuhan was way ahead of his time, as he anticipated the way we are globally interconnected in the 21. century through technology such as television, computers and the internet (McLuhan & Powers, 1989). The mere possibility that a football fan from India is able to watch a FIFA World Cup final in Brazil or the fact that both teenagers and adults are interacting for hours with friends and strangers from all around the globe through their internet devices, shows the fulfillment of Marshall McLuhan’s anticipatory ideas.

Marshall McLuhan’s visions reflect on how we use media- and communication technologies today. His ideas also reflect on the question and scientific debate whether global media directly comes along with the globalization of culture, and if so, to what degree.

From this point on, it would be interesting to further address global media effects, such as the debate on “cultural imperialism” and to look at ethnographic studies on how cultural orientations have shifted through the ‘era of new media.

 

McLuhan, M. & Powers, B.R. (1989). The global village: Transformations in world life and media in the 21st century. New York: Oxford University Press.

 

Marshall McLuhan’s prophecy of a Global Village

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