April Reader's Den: You Know Nothing of My Work! by Douglas Coupland - Week 3
It is worth noting that both Marshall McLuhan and his biographer Douglas Coupland, each keen observers of modern communication technologies, are both from Canada. It is also a place called home to Harold Adams Innis, a contemporary of McLuhan's, who was another early pioneer of media studies. Coupland says of Innis and McLuhan "This ability to contemplate wide distances with no overriding imperialist agenda gave both men a sense of intellectual freedom."
Sharing a border with the United States, nearly 90% of the Canadian population lives within 100 miles of the US border. McLuhan was quick to perceive the possibilities of cultural domination via the media, and espoused that American television would be a potential threat to Canadian identity. Except of course, for Québec, which has another influence of cultural identity than does the rest of Canada, due to being a French island in a sea of North Americans. The French language served as an effective barrier to the invasion of American culture, while on the other hand, television and other electronic media's impact helped modernize Québec, and integrate it from an isolating provincialism.
Which leads us to the concept of the global village. McLuhan exorts in Understanding Media that electronic technology has shrunk the world to the level of a village, having these visions nearly 30 years before the popularization of the Internet. He says, "A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual's encyclopedic function and flip into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind."
- Do you think computers will ever make the library obsolete?
- Have you ever been to Canada? How does it differ from the United States?
- In what ways has being on the Internet expanded your understanding of the "global village"?