de Kerckhove: Communication in Evolution

For fans of Marshall McLuhan, or those interested in knowing more than just the phrase, “the medium is the message”, there is an excellent interview [dead link] online with Derrick de Kerckhove, Director of the McLuhan Program in Toronto. There is lots of stuff to chew on, as well as a concise overview of McLuhan’s tetradic Laws of Media:

“every new medium:

  • extends a human property (the car extends the foot);
  • obsolesces the previous medium by turning it into a sport or an form of art (the automobile turns horses and carriages into sports);
  • retrieves a much older medium that was obsolesced before (the automobile brings back the shining armour of the chevalier);
  • flips or reverses its properties into the opposite effect when pushed to its limits (the automobile, when there are too many of them, create traffic jams, that is total paralysis)”

The most enlightening for me is de Kerckhove’s view of a new kind of identity in our inter-networked world:

The key to the new identity is what I call “selving”, that is the self in progress, in becoming, as in quantum physics where “things are not, they merely tend to be”. The new identity is in perpetual formation and reformation at the moment of use and on line it is fluid and aggregative as when people meet and change their perceptions of each other during the meeting. I sometime suspect that screens were invented only for the purpose of allowing several persons, minds, identities to meet and share thinking and speaking at a distance. The new connective thinking system is the screen. Via What is the Message? [dead link]

5 Responses to “de Kerckhove: Communication in Evolution”

  1. Anonymous

    I seem to be a verb.– quote from Buckminster Fuller.

    Great note!

    McLuhan essentially introduces media as the enactments of sense perceptions, through which the autopoiesis of our individual and societal selves takes place. Explicit recognition of autopoiesis (for example, through presencing and the U) is I think essential for right action in this codependently originating world. How this works with world wide software screens is fascinating.

    Mark Szpakowski

  2. Anonymous

    McLuhan’s QuadrantsGlad to see this stuff, Harold. I thought I was the only person in the Northern hemisphere that had read that book, as I’m guessing most management people don’t want to know about this stuff at this particular point in time (I think we’re just coming out of the “it’s all back to business basics” that evryone went to after the bust and all the subsequent mayhem (tech wreck, Iraq, blogs, yadda, yadda).

    Actually i think we’ve cross-commented on this revival and making practiocal of McLuhan’s seminal work. i found the book tto be really top-notch.

  3. Anonymous

    Food for thoughtThanks Mark, you’ve given me a lot to chew on. I’ll reflect on this over the holidays 🙂


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