A. Any major artifact enhances or accelerates a
certain process or thing.
What does it enhance?
B. Any major artifact renders obsolete another
process or thing.
What does it make obsolete?
C. Any major artifact retrieves some process or
thing that was once obsolete (from cliché to archetype).
What does it retrieve?
D. Any major artifact, when pushed to the
limits of its potential, flips into something entirely new.
What does it reverse or flip into?
Samples of McLuhan’s Laws of Media
1. Cable TV
A. Amplifies quality and diversity of signal pickup.
B. Obsolesces diffusion broadcasting.
C. Retrieves early transmission broadcast pattern of point-to-point
(ship to shore).
D. Reversal is flip to home broadcasting.
A. Private enclosed visual space (three little pigs).
B. Cave, tent, wigwam, dome.
C. Wagon trains, covered wagon (pioneers), mobile home clusters.
D. High-rise corporate.
A. For mines, enhanced depth – real low-down.
B. Steps, ladders – gravity, that is, is levity.
C. Retrieves hidden treasures, retrieves hierarchy!
D. Flips into high-rise – new egalitarianism of the elevator.
A. Private energy, clothing as weaponry.
B. Climate, clothing as thermal control.
C. Mask, trophy, corporate energy.
D. Conventional attire.
A. Plurality – quantity, for example, possessions.
B. Notches, symbols, tallies.
C. Math, algebra, zero, blank.
D. Profile of crowd – pattern recognition.
A. Opens sea of hardware.
B. The wood sail – uncertainty, exploration.
C. Creates tourism – programmed pilgrims.
D. Centralism via sea power (vs. old decentralization of sea power).
A. Tonnage hardware – horizontal speed.
B. Country life.
D. Vertical organization chart; hierarchy – robber barons.
8. Copernican Revolution
A. Enhances role of sun (central).
B. Pushes aside the crystalline spheres.
C. Retrieves Aristarchus. (Greek astronomer of 3rd century BC, first to conclude
earth moves around sun and to state causes of day and night and change of
D. Flips into relativity – centers everywhere (decentral) and margins nowhere.
A. Speedup of printing process.
B. Obsolesces assembly-line book.
C. Retrieves the oral tradition, the committee (the happening).
D. Reversal is “everybody a publisher.”
10. Microphone – P.A. system
A. Amplifies individual speech and rhythm.
B. Obsolesces the big band, Latin Mass, grand opera.
C. Retrieves group participation.
D. Flips from private to corporate sound-bubble.
C. Potlatch (conspicuous consumption).
12. The Wheel
B. Sled, roller, etc.
C. Roads as river – moving sidewalk – skis, snowmobiles, dune buggy, Skidoo, tank.
D. Airplane via bicycle.
A. Amplification of private, individual handicraft via mechanization.
B. Oral tradition, also handicrafts and guilds.
C. Retrieves antiquity, for example, the first Copernican revolution via Pythagoras.
D. Flips from private writing to corporate consumption, into the big mechanizedenvironment (reading public and worker) of the second Copernican revolution, and the interiorization of the external world via Kantian revolt against Hume, and flip into Romanticism and subjectivism.
14. Instant reply
A. Instant replay of experience = cliché. Amplifies cognitive awareness.
B. Obsolesces the representational and chronological.
C. Retrieves “meaning”.
D. Flips from individual experience to pattern recognition – archetype.
A. Enlarges the planet.
B. Obsolesces nature.
C. Retrieves ecology.
D. Reversal – nature is art form. Retrieves globe as theatre, population goes from spectator to actor.
16. Electric media
A. Amplification of scope of simultaneity and service environment as information.
B. Obsolesces the visual, connected, logical.
C. Retrieves the subliminal-audile-tactile-dialogue.
D. Etherealization – the sender is sent.
Marshall McLuhan Steels His Gaze by Tapioca Hot Tub