July 21, 2017
Marshall McLuhan’s 106th Birthday
Long before we started looking to our screens for all the answers, Marshall McLuhan saw the internet coming — and predicted just how much impact it would have. A Canadian philosopher and professor who specialized in media theory, McLuhan came to prominence in the 1960s, just as TV was becoming part of everyday life. At the center of his thinking was the idea that society is shaped by technology and the way information is shared.
Today’s Doodle, which celebrates the visionary’s 106th birthday, illustrates this theory by showing how McLuhan viewed human history. He saw it through the lens of 4 distinct eras: the acoustic age, the literary age, the print age, and the electronic age. His first major book, The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), popularized the term “global village” — the idea that technology brings people together and allows everyone the same access to information.
In Understanding Media (1964), McLuhan further examined the transformative effects of technology and coined his famous phrase “The medium is the message.” He believed that the way in which someone receives information is more influential than the information itself. Throughout the '60s and '70s, McLuhan made frequent TV appearances to share his theories with both followers and skeptics.
Decades later, we honor the man whose prophetic vision of the “computer as a research and communication instrument” has undeniably become a reality.