Global village

From ArticleWorld

The Global Village is a phrase coined by Canadian philosopher and media theorist Marshall McLuhan. The term was first used in McLuhans publication The Guttenberg Galaxy, it specifically refers to the shrinking of the Earth, in terms of both time and space, due to the increase in electronic mass media. Human interaction and communication, McLuhan claimed, could increase and expand thanks to the Global Village, thus shrinking the commonly held boundaries of geographical and time differences to create a single world community.


Technological Shift

Writing extensively during the ’60’s and ‘70’s, McLuhan’s work was largely a foresight of a grim future, rather than a reflection of the media activities of the day. This lead many to question or ridicule, McLuhan’s work. However now, in the Age of Technology, with the freedom that the Internet and other avenues of the mass media provide, we are finally realizing the prophecy that McLuhan laid out. Now the term ‘Global Village’ is widely used to metaphorically define the World Wide Web or in simpler terms, the Internet. This global network of computers allows the free exchange of information and communication between people throughout the world.

McLuhan’s Perspective

The primary criticism leveled against McLuhan’s work was that it was largely dependent on outdated oral/aural media. Technologies like the radio and the telephone, which McLuhan made many references to, where seen by many as outmoded media in a world where visual technology like film and television were dominating.

Tribal Base

In his book the Guttenberg Galaxy, McLuhan discussed a paradigmatic shift of public interaction. Instead of living in a world of individualism, the Global Village would herald a shift towards collective identities, which he refers to as a ‘Tribal Base’. Essentially, he suggested that in the tribal communities where oral communication was key and where unity was paramount, society exists through language and fear. It is a grim portrayal of Westernized society and a future in which the media technologies would hold the key.

Media Technology

The focus of the Global Village, for McLuhan at least, lay not in the messages that the media offered but through the technologies through which the message is transmitted. In later work, like The Medium is The Massage (correct spelling), he would reiterate the importance of technology in creating a media made Global Village. It would be through the creation of technology and its integration into society that his vision could be fulfilled. The realization of his Global Village vindicated McLuhan, even though he would never live to see it take effect. Whilst some of his prophecies remained largely unfulfilled, his vision of a world where technology would come to dominate and in which communities are forged across global networks, has become his greatest legacy. Although unconventional and often incomprehensible his foresight in the importance of media technology, has convinced many to suggest McLuhan was the first true Media Theorist and a forefather of modern day Media Studies.