August 1997

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Now, McLuhan is the Message

by Mick Doherty

Book Review:
Forward Through the Rearview Mirror: Reflections on and by Marshall McLuhan
Edited by Paul Benedetti and Nancy DeHart
MIT Press, 1997
ISBN 0-262-52233-0
224 pages, including 200 photographs

CD-ROM Review: Understanding McLuhan
The Voyager Company, 1996

Web sites Reviewed (in full):
The Project McLuhan
The McLuhan Probes
The Marshall McLuhan Center on Global Communications
The McLuhan Program

Other Web sites (briefly noted):
The Video McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan's Message
Marshall McLuhan
McLuhan Quote-Rama

Marshall McLuhan, the late great Canadian media guru who coined the phrase "the medium is the message" and the aphoristic metaphor "global village" is back in a big way. And now, in a painfully ironic redundancy, McLuhan himself has become the primary message for a generation of cybernauts re- discovering his 1960's literary-artistic exploration of the collision of image and text.

"McLuhan" is one of those names you pop into AltaVista and get 11,655 listings spit back at you. His work is so intertwined with Net Culture that he is often presumed to have been a "visionary" of cyberspace (as discussed in a previous work in this publication) which is a bit nonsensical, even if Wired  has proclaimed him its "patron saint."

But the man whose personal motto was "You don't like my ideas? I got others!" has inspired a wealth of metatextual commentary that has come in numerous media forms; not only are there the aforementioned ubiquitous Web sites, which include numerous "^study centers" and a few other ^notable sites examined in this review--but recent years have produced books with software companions and more recently CD-ROM experiments with companion papertext publications. Some recent noteworthy releases here include Voyager's CD-ROM, ^Understanding McLuhan (The Voyager Company, 1996) and paper text ^Forward Through the Rearview Mirror, a collection of essays edited by Paul Benedetti and Nancy DeHart (MIT Press, 1997).

Mick Doherty ( is a doctoral candidate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and resides in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. He is the editor of   Kairos: A Journal For Teachers of Writing in Webbed Environments, sponsored by the national Alliance for Computers and Writing.

Note: The author will maintain and update an active version of this multimedia review. If you have suggestions for other sites that should be included, or would like to offer a response, counter-commentary, or additional material to be included, please contact the author.

Copyright © 1997 by Mick Doherty. All Rights Reserved.


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Forward Through the Rearview Mirror: Reflections on and by Marshall McLuhan Edited by Paul Benedetti and Nancy DeHart
Understanding McLuhan

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