Although he died on the last day of 1980 and has therefore missed further pursuing so many of the technological advances and societal changes he foresaw, July 21st, 2011 marks the centennial of the birth of Marshall McLuhan.
While there have already been many events this year celebrating McLuhan’s centennial, this week in particular has been the one so many have been waiting for — to properly re-examine, reflect on, and otherwise celebrate McLuhan’s life and still hotly debated body of work.
Events and Reissues
In addition to the worldwide events honouring McLuhan, new centennial editions of many of his most important books will be making their way to book sellers around the world. The most recent being a new paperback edition of The Medium is the Massage featuring a beautifully designed cover by Shepard Fairey.
Even if you’re not familiar with the man or his writing, if you work in the digital realm, you owe it to yourself to at least dip a toe into his observations and ideas — you may be surprised what you find and how it affects you.
Digging a little deeper, the seminal book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964), and the quick-hit mosaics of The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (1967) both still read as though they were written in the last few years. The world McLuhan describes is the one we live in now.
Celebrations in Toronto
Tonight, during a free to the public McLuhan Festival Celebration event, author John Ralston Saul will be awarded the first Gutenberg Galaxy Award for Literature “for his career achievements in literature and his contribution to the culture of Canada.” I also happen to know there’s at least one more surprise in store for someone else close to McLuhan during the evening…
Happy birthday Marshall.