Response: Critique of McLuhan’s Technological determinism viewpoint or lack of one thereof

Cana’s assertion that McLuhan lacks a point is a bit harsh. But it is true that there are inconsistencies (which he could have helped) and certainly instances where it cannot be properly applied to media today (which he could not have foreseen).

Cana’s biggest argument is that McLuhan does not allow for the process of innovation to be considered as an extension of man, only the medium. Of course, this is a “chicken or the egg” kind of argument. While McLuhan is arguing that media shapes a (supposedly) helpless humanity, Cana argues that the very process of innovation – and the process in which content for a particular medium is defined – is shaped by humanity itself. It’s a fairly obvious assertion, plus, I think we’re all a little more comfortable with it. I mean, it’s nicer to feel in control of your destiny than a helpless pawn to the forces of media, right?

Secondly, the issue of contextual content is huge. McLuhan obviously concedes that different media have different forms of content in his “hot” or “cold” argument, but Cana further asserts this in probably the most important (and my favorite) passage: “…it is the face or the posture of JFK or Nixon that makes a difference on how they are viewed on TV.”

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