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The Invisible Obelisk: Marshall McLuhan and Media Studies on the Blockchain

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The Invisible Obelisk: Marshall McLuhan and Media Studies on the Blockchain

Duration: 00:19:50

Speaker: David Morris

Type: Breakout

Expertise: Advanced

Event: Devcon 5

Date: Oct 2019

The so-called Toronto School media theorists, including Harold Innis, Walter Ong, and, most famously, Marshall McLuhan, pioneered a new way of thinking about media and communication technology. For them, innovations like the telegraph and railroad were not merely faster ways of transmitting the same messages that had ridden horseback a century earlier. Instead, they were fundamental re-fashionings of the core of human life, changing the speed, size, and internal dynamics of society itself.Similar transformative potential has been claimed for blockchain technology, specifically for its ability to create unique, non-duplicable data objects. But little thought has been given to exactly whatkind of transformations we're talking about. The Toronto school gives us tools for thinking about the nature of this pending change in detail, such as McLuhan's work on 'warm and cool' media and Innis' work on 'time binding vs. space binding' media. This presentation will be based on this chapter draft: https://medium.com/@dzanemorris/the-invisible-obelisk-mcluhan-on-the-blockchain-part-1-70b668c3778e. It will argue that blockchain tech, because it is both digital and durable, is a truly novel sort of media technology. It will explore how it is different from what came before, and consider some implications for the future. This application was solicited by Maria Paula.
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