Sunday, July 27, 2008

Deja Marshall Vu, All Over Again

This, Dear Gentle Reader(s), from The New York Times' web site:

Young people “aren’t as troubled as some of us older folks are by reading that doesn’t go in a line,” said Rand J. Spiro, a professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University who is studying reading practices on the Internet. “That’s a good thing because the world doesn’t go in a line, and the world isn’t organized into separate compartments or chapters.”

If that doesn't sound familiar, may one refer you to Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media.  In it, during the 1960's, McLuhan discussed the "linear" and the "mosaic" as metaphors for acquiring information.  Pre-electronic age Westerners (one hedges, just in case one doesn't remember accurately) learned to process information in a linear fashion...that is, a log line of information, analogous to the moving headline around the New York Times building in Times Square.  Electronic-age Westerners (same hedge) learned to process information in bits and pieces, analogous to a mosaic.

And that's what Professor Spiro is saying.

Good ol' Marshall.  We knew he was a prophet. 

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