Monday, August 8, 2011

The Mission of Public Television Circa 1979

In 1979 McLuhan was asked by the Editorial Director of the TV GUIDE “what should be the mission of public television in the United States?” Mcluhan replied that the big operation required was to alert the audience to the hidden factors in the service environments provided by the various media. He went on to note that the challenge of the day was that the “media” are deflating the person.
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"I soon realized that recognizing the symptoms of change was not enough; one must understand the cause of change, for without comprehending causes, the social any psychic effects of new technology cannot be counteracted or modified. But I recognized also that one individual cannot accomplish these self-protective modifications; they must be the collective effort of society, because they affect all of society; the individual is helpless against the pervasiveness of environmental change: the new garbage -- or mess-age -- induced by new technologies. Only the social organism, united and recognizing the challenge, can move to meet it.

"Unfortunately, no society in history has ever known enough about the forces that shape and transform it to take action to control and direct new technologies as they extend and transform man. But today, change proceeds so instantaneously through the new media that it may be possible to institute a global education program that will enable us to seize the reins of our destiny -- but to do this we must first recognize the kind of therapy that's needed for the effects of the new media. In such an effort, indignation against those who perceive the nature of those effects is no substitute for awareness and insight." H. M. McLuhan 

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