Marshall McLuhan and The Gutenberg Galaxy

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The proponents of technology have always believed that technology is a product of independent creation and thus follows its own pace. They say that technology is forceful and society does not have a choice but to adapt to the changes that it imposes on the people. The members of any particular society may not be actually happy with the change but eventually they learn to accept it, as a result of which the process of change comes a full circle. This idea however is debatable because many critics point out that technology is in fact a planned phenomenon. Not only this but also they point out that there are certain forces that control and introduce technology into the society and that the expected changes from such an introduction is said to be a deliberate attempt at transforming the society. Marshall McLuhan wrote extensively about this subject in his book The Gutenberg Galaxy. The book is basically about the changes that were imposed in the European society as a result of the creation of the printing press in the fifteenth century. It was this printing press that was responsible for a number of changes in the society, which include the social, political and economic forces that were present at the time. The printing press was primarily responsible for the Protestant Reformation because a large number of bibles were available for everyone to read which meant, “Every man can be a priest.” The following essay will thus attempt to discuss McLuhan’s ideas in the light of the phenomenon of technology and discuss whether it is relevant to the current revolution in electronic publishing. The initial Gutenberg revolution discussed by McLuhan is just an introduction of other things to come. He is more interested in finding out about the...

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... Gutenberg revolution and its relevance to the current mode of electronic publishing is relevant only if there are certain pre-existing conditions in the society. In conclusion one would like to point out that electronic publishing would only shape the course of history and contribute to the understanding and change of one’s environment if these publications are not mere clones of the available hard copies. The medium’s independent existence as way of providing information is the only way real change can be brought about.

Works Cited

Garfield, E. “Electronic journals and skywriting: A complementary medium for scientific communication?” Current Contents, November 11 1991.

McLuhan, M. The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962.

Katz, W. “The ten best magazines of 1990,” Library Journal, 1991.

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