Cybernetics and the Message of Digital Media

In honour of the centenary of the birth of Marshall McLuhan  (b. 1911) I’m posting this paper entitled Cybernetics and the Message of Digital Media that I wrote for my students when I taught at the Centre for Society, Technology and Values at the University of Waterloo. In the abstract I wrote, “With the potential for the message of digital media to become the medium of societal change, would Marshall McLuhan have feared becoming a cyborg produced by globalization? Should we? Let’s hope not.” At the SPT meeting in Denton, TX this past May I attended a panel entitled “Concerned Knowledge for Concerned People!” The panelists Ramon Queralto, Javier Bustamante and Antonio Calleja were from Spain, and Langdon Winner was the moderator. Of great interest to me was what they reported about the Real Democracy Now protests in Spain and how their character has been shaped by the participants use and experience of digital media (ICTs). Although I wrote my paper seven years ago, I believe my conclusions about digital media, feedback and social change are more relevant then ever. It can be downloaded here.

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