Found this little gem in my boss's office. Her always fascinating and widely read blog is at debbiemillman.blogspot.com.
In case you don't know, Marshall McLuhan was an amazing media theorist in the late 60's who was one of the first to mention the positive effects of television. It doesn't rot your mind but puts you in touch with the rest of the world. Unlike reading, which is a passive medium, television actively engages you and "touches" you through the screen.
I loved him the first time I read him, but I tried to read him again and couldn't get through it. He uses flowery language and makes bug statements without backing them up. One thing I learned in academia was to always give rational, which McLuhan often doesn't. Still, his concepts affected my greatly. Plus, he was in Annie Hall. How cool is that?
I'm now reading an article by Harold Innis, one of Marshall's inspirations and contemporaries in Toronto. Innis discusses how different types of media can influence, create, and destroy empires. I can't go through any of the amazing examples right now. And I've tried. Let's just say that the spread of the written word led to the loss of thousands of years of information that, before writing, had only transferred through oral tradition. What we know as "history" is a fraction of what really happened.