“How Shall The New Environment Be Programmed Now That We Have Become So Involved With Each Other?”

Quentin Fiore, the graphic designer who created the book's amazing look, is now 90.

Facebook wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg being named Time magazine’s Person of the Year made me recall an ominous passage from early in The Medium Is The Massage: An Inventory of Effects, from 1967. Not that I think that things are quite this dire, but Marshall McLuhan was pretty prophetic here. An excerpt:

“How much do you make? Have you ever contemplated suicide? Are you now or have you ever been…? I have here before me…Electrical information devices for universal, tyrannical womb-to-tomb surveillance are causing a very serious dilemma between our claim to privacy and the community’s need to know. The older, traditional ideas of private, isolated thoughts and actions–the patterns of mechanistic technologies–are very seriously threatened by new methods of instantaneous electric information retrieval by the electrically computerized dossier bank–that one big gossip column that is unforgiving, unforgetful¬†and from which there is no redemption, no erasure of early ‘mistakes.’ We have already reached a point where remedial control, born out of knowledge of media and their total effects on all of us, must be exerted. How shall the new environment be programmed now that we have become so involved with each other, now that all of us have become the unwitting work force for social change? What’s that buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzing?”

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