September 2011

H. Marshall McLuhan was a prolific writer and interpretivist thinker whose works are often cited but rarely fully understood. I make no claim to fully understand McLuhan either but I will do my best to provide a good foundation for at least one of his favorite topics – media as an extension of our senses/bodies. I will first introduce the differences between positivist and interpretivist epistemological philosophies and use this to help explain why McLuhan may baffle “serious” media scholars. We will then look at McLuhan’s view of tribalization, the alphabet and the Gutenberg Galaxy. Some questions I am hoping to answer or to propose include:

  • Why do media scholars scoff (or plainly ignore) the mention of McLuhan in “serious” academic settings?
  • What are McLuhan’s interpretation of the ages of man leading to the global village?
  • What technologies have we invented to extend our senses?
  • What sense(s) do the computer, wii or eBook extend?
  • Would McLuhan use YouTube or WordPress today?
  • Would McLuhan even have an email address today?
  • Anecdotal Question – Why is his book titled “The Medium is the Massage” when the actual phrase is the medium is the message? And what does that mean?

Stay Tuned – I will be updating this post with a book review once I finish “Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work” by Douglas Coupland (Links to Amazon).

Official Site:

Link to Prezi in development:

“The more the data banks record about each one of us, the less we exist.” ~M. McLuhan


Everyday Uses of Google Maps and Google Earth

1. Relive Your Youth – Download and use Google Earth to plot your life path from your first neighborhood to now.

2. Scout Houses or List Your House – Opps! This was true just a few months ago but as of February 2011 Google has decided to forego their real estate feature originally announced in 2009. Read about it at the Google Lat Long blog. It all came down to low usage and the lack of resources (read money). But! Those tech savvy real estate agencies like Coldwell Banker can still use Google Maps to create customized maps of the houses in their portfolio. They have even paired up each map location with an accompanying YouTube video. Way to take ownership of your web presence CB!

3. Find Cheap Gas – Use the website at home or try out the Where app for your mobile phone. Where can also help you to find restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and theaters. It is available for “Free” for iOS, Android, Blackberry, webOS and Windows Phone.

4. Find RTS bus stops – Use the TransLoc Transit Visualization service at home or on your mobile to see real-time (synchronous) data of the current buses en route. Identifies bus stops (the little white dots) too.

5. Get Out of a Ticket – Use Google Maps to prove that there is no way that Police Officer could have seen you driving 60 mph in the 20 mph zone. How Google Maps got this guy out of a traffic ticket.

1. Find out exactly where your eBay package is going/coming from – I’m not saying that I’ve tried this…but I’m just saying…

2. Map your daily biking, jogging path and share with your friends – Try and create maps to share and collaborate on with your friends. I wouldn’t suggest making your morning constitution a public map though…that might invite the crazies.

Aggregate the geolocation information from your friend’s social networking posts with Creepy – Speaking of announcing your morning rituals…have you enabled automatic location identification when posting to your social networks? I am interested in how people use and interact with these tools. Who are the people that contribute to crowdsourcing? Are there people who are contributing to the crowdsourcing but don’t know that they are contributing?

What are the ethical concerns for the companies aggregating the data from these unknowing publics? What are the ethical concerns for researchers aggregating this data in order to better identify the pervasiveness of this issue? How much information are we giving away for free? How much functionality are we willing to give up in order to protect our information? On a related note, have you setup your Google circles or Facebook Friends lists? Is there an age threshold for those that use these security groups to protect their aggregate data (posts, location, etc…) and those that just “don’t have the time” or don’t otherwise find them useful?

What’s next?
Back in 2008, the UK government sent out an open RFP-like challenge asking the public to “Show Us A Better Way” to use the publicly available government information. Read about some of the winning ideas in The Guardian. This sounds like something our Florida Government-in-the-Sunshine people might be interested in looking at.

But here comes copyright crashing the party again: From “Check ‘I Agree’ to Continue – The Scary Yet Intriguing Truth about Web Mapping Terms of Service” by Adena Schutzberg

Once the winners were announced in October 2008, the OS [Ordinance Survey, creators of the OpenSpace mapping API] sent a document to local governments to help clarify their use of data derived from OS data. That document, suggests the Guardian, may put the contest winners’ solutions in jeopardy. The crux of the matter is found in the OpenSpace Developer Agreement and it pertains to what it calls “Derived Data.” The phrase refers to any data made based on OS data. If you geocode points using OS data, you’ve created Derived Data. If you draw a boundary on top of OS data, you’ve created Derived Data. Now, the thing about Derived Data, again, per the ToS, is that the OS owns the data. It says exactly that in the Developer Agreement: “In the event that You or any End user creates Derived Data, such Derived Data shall be owned by Us…”