Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rice on McLuhan on Wired

I can't pass up responding to Jeff Rice's post about McLuhan as the patron saint of Wired, appearing on the cover in of 4.01 in 1993. That issue of Wired was undoubtedly a turning point in my academic career, although it took me a long time to accept and realize that.

4.01 was the first issue of Wired I bought. I remember having a physical reaction not unlike purchasing pornography--I was in the last semester of my MA literature program, living in a palpably anti-technology environment, so purchasing Wired, with Canada's infamous Philosopher of Pop on the cover, was definitely a challenge to my moral and ideological environment, yet titillating. I didn't do any McLuhan scholarship for a few years, but my first academic presentation on hypertext was well received, McLuhan makes a few cameos in my dissertation on writing instruction in western Canadian universities (that was an exciting project!), I more or less sketched out a book I still haven't written about McLuhan for Compositionist in 1997, I finally told myself I had to commit to computers and composition as "my field" in 2003 or 2004, I had a dream about Jeff in 2004, and 15 years, I have more or less absorbed McLuhan, but still haven't written the damn book. : (

As for Wired, the once-pornographic has reversed to the common-place, so much so that my 9 year old often reads it, or at least looks through it. It certainly covers his world (video games, manga) more than it covers my world. The mag may have flattened out, as Jeff notes, but I feel more like McLuhan reading it now, noticing all the little stories that re-enforce "the medium is the massage" over and over again without the authors even noticing.

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