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Understanding New Media: Extending Marshall McLuhan Paperback – Oct 28 2010


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«‘Understanding New Media’ is a necessary and up to date upgrade of Marshall McLuhan's theories in the context of a new digital media ecology. Bob Logan is one of the best interpreters of McLuhan’s 360º vision of media, technology and culture, and he has enriched this wide- angle perspective by including categories from biology, complexity and evolution fields. In a historical moment characterized by a hyper- specialization of science - media studies are not the exception - this integrated approach is essential for understanding new media.» (Carlos A. Scolari, Professor, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona)
«Marshall McLuhan’s ideas on media have stood the test of time remarkably well. In many respects they are more relevant today than in the time of writing. Thus, an update of his classic work ‘Understanding Media’ from 1964 makes perfect sense. And I could think of no better candidate for the task than Robert Logan. His first-hand knowledge of McLuhan combined with his straightforward and lucid style of writing makes ‘Understanding New Media’ extremely useful as a guide to McLuhan’s thoughts as well as our present world of ‘New Media’.» (Mogens Olesen, University of Copenhagen)

About the Author

Robert K. Logan is Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Toronto and Chief Scientist of the Strategic Innovation Lab at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He collaborated and published with McLuhan, which influenced this publication and his many other books including The Alphabet Effect, The Sixth Language, The Extended Mind, Collaborate to Compete and What is Information? He brings his experiences in politics and the business world to his understanding of media new and old.

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Amazon.com: 1 review
More cataloguing than "understanding" May 21 2014
By Z. Stiegler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's an ambitious project. Largely discarded by the time his death in 1980, McLuhan's work came back into vogue in the mid 1990s alongside the popularization of the Internet. While McLuhan's thoughts and predictions have renewed relevance in the Internet age, he could not have accounted for the explosion of media technologies in the last quarter century. This book attempts to recontextualize McLuhan's work for the new media environment of the 21st century, with admittedly mixed results.

Logan makes a number of significant observations in the early part of the book, effectively articulating McLuhan's observations of the electric age with our current media environment. Following these broader scoped chapters, the book laboriously addresses every technology included in McLuhan's Understanding Media, then does the same for new media technologies in an effort to update UM. However, these chapters dedicated to specific technologies tend to be much more descriptive than theoretical, analytical, or even "probing," to use McLuhan's terms. We get detailed histories and descriptions of new media technologies and companies, but not much in the way of scholarly inquiry (as the many citations of Wikipedia attest).

Rather than giving in to the compulsion to comprehensively include every technology, Logan would have done well to focus more on the impact of technologies on culture and society. Not only would this save the embarrassment of detailing technologies that are already obsolete four years after the book's publication (eg. Web TV, pagers, Usenet), it would more effectively extend McLuhan's own work.

Understanding New Media has value - but that value is at times obscured by its ambitions as a comprehensive cataloging of new media technologies.


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