• Michaels, Eric. “Constraints on Knowledge in an Economy of Oral Information.” Current Anthropology 26.4 (1985): 505-10.


505: “If McLuhan seems easily dismissed in 1985, it may be mostly because of his facile metaphors. In fact, comparisons between traditional oral societies and the society of the ‘new information age’ may prove quite instructive, both for theory and for application. My interest in Aboriginal communications was in fact stimulated by questions McLuhan raised. The objective of the three-year investigation sponsored by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies was to account for the interaction between new electronic media and traditional life in remote Aboriginal communities. It seemed reasonable to investigate the comparison between ‘tribal’ and postindustrial society by considering an oral society into which new electronic media were being introduced but in which literacy was minimal. In fact, reading and writing were high on the agenda of the local school, but its influence on the community was not entirely convincing. (I find it telling that literacy was considered non-problematic and that no one was sent out to assess its effects.) There was an advocacy objective to the issue as well, suggested by Worth (1981) and Worth and Adair (1972): would an oral society find audiovisual production a more suitable means of communication and participation in modern life than writing?”


  • Miller, Mark Crispin. “Down the Tubes [review].” The New Republic 192 (April 22 1985): 30.

30: “As we slog through [Joshua] Meyrowitz’s abundant prose, we begin to notice that his mechanical voice carries a strange messianic undertone. Although the author routinely qualifies the points of his analysis in order to suggest a ‘balanced’ study, his book actually promotes the euphoric view, derived from McLuhan, that the electronic media – and TV most of all – have opened up the whole world to everybody in it. Before this recent liberation – that is, until the sixties – human intercourse was merely a matter of people talking to each other in the same physical space. This universal reliance on ‘face-to-face interaction’ enabled the construction of all sorts of social barriers, because one’s physical placement would always express and delimit one’s social place. Society was divided into ‘public’ and ‘private,’ ‘upstairs’ and ‘below-stairs,’ or as Meyrowitz puts it, using Erving Goffman’s terminology, ‘front region’ and back ‘region.'”


  • Newman, Peter C.. “A Plugged in Software Guru.” Maclean’s 98 (April 15 1985): 39.


39: “[David] Godfrey eschews the comparison but he may well be Canada’s Marshall McLuhan for the 1980s. That claim is based on Gutenberg Two: The New Electronics and Social Change, a book he wrote with three partners in 1979 and which has just been issued in a revised fourth edition. It is an intelligent and in some ways frightening analysis of how computers are a bout to change our way of perceiving the world. ‘A quite magical change is about to take place,’ he writes, ‘a change almost as exciting as the first telephone must have been in rural areas, but with an impact far more fundamental. The basics of our social life are going to be changed to a degree that they have not since the wellborn German goldsmith, Gutenberg, began the mysterious 10-year process that led eventually to the creation of quickly reproducible, absolutely similar metal type – letting any handy wine-press be turned into a book-making machine and putting more than a little panic into those with heavy investments in monasteries and scriptoriums.. All information in all places at all times. The impossible ideal. The marriage of computers with existing communications-links will take us far closer to that goal than we have ever been.'”


  • Wain, John. “The Incidental Thoughts of Marshall McLuhan.” Encounter 65.1 (1985): 11-22.

11: “Where McLuhan scored over such eminent predecessors as Bergson and Heidegger was in his prescription of a cure for our ills. In the source of the problem – technology – he also saw the glimmering of a solution. Whereas mechanical reproduction of books, and the mass reproduction of cloth, steel or automobiles gave us a world of linear causality, uniformity and regularity, the new electronic age provides us with quite different models.

“Since electronics affords instantaneous communication across all terrestrial distances, direct recording of speech and music without the intervention of a mediating coding system such as writing, the new media could re-introduce a world more like the audio-tactile one we possessed before its loss to the visual-mechanical one.

“In this new space, a multiplicity of objects announce their presence by their activity instead of being passively located in the visual filed of the observing eye. No ‘points of view’ are relevant or possible here since this space is not closed and rectangular like the space of Cartesian coordinates.” (11)