Marshall Mcluhan in application to new media and new literacies

New media within a few years becomes old media. So new literacies also become old literacies. In order to understand how to communicate using new media, knowledge of the history of media is essential. This knowledge will help you adapt to new media once the new media you are using becomes old. Some people do not realize the importance of accepting changes in new and old media. They become stuck, relying on old technology and outlived communication venues that no longer reach the largest audience. Marshall Mcluhan in his lectures Living in an aucustic world , mentions the transitions that media and medium takes as it progresses from old to new to old again. The town square was once the communication hub of centuries past. It evolved into verbal then paper messages carried by personal messengers. Then the postal service, telegraph, newspapers, radio, television, and now the various technologies using computers, satellites, and antenna towers. New media and new literacies develop and we change. Our culture changes. The world changes. Then it isn’t new anymore. If one doesn’t understand the history of changing media then they may not understand the need to adapt as new media evolves. How effective is a town crier in today’s society (unless some one captures the crier on there cell phone camera and puts it on youtube.)

The marketing of business is also impacted by new media and new literacy. Marketing began years ago by the slow build of reputation, usually by word of mouth. The original social network. Advertising through the newspapers, by mail, radio and television was the new media approach for many years, however this approach was limited to wealthy entrepreneurs or established business due to the costs. Today’s social network eliminates the financial burden that traditional media carried. It has expanded even the advertising world to be one of participation, instead of advertising it is now peer marketing that is the new literacy in the business world. Instead of just understanding how advertising effects us we must now understand how we are personally influenced by our social and peer interactions. This is no longer simply our face to face peer group but the larger peer group we are interacting with through new media. This is the facebook crowd, twitter, texting, the images taken one after another and uploaded to share… our lives, and the lives of our peers; live online, is our new influence.

Education is another realm impacted by new media and new literacy. Marshall Mcluhan mentions theories by Ivan Illich, that state the school building is now outdated since all the answers are out in the world. It is part of the circular life of literacy. We started in the world and then formalized education so that all the answers were found in one place, now the answers, because of new media is found out in the world again. I like the statement made by Mcluhan that instead of putting all the answers in the class room we should be putting all the questions there.


McLuhan, M. (1970).  Living in an acoustic world.  [Public lecture.]  University of South Florida.  Retrieved from:

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