Academie Minerva 1999-2000

The Understanding Media Seminar

The purpose of this seminar is to discuss and work (perform/play) with some of the media that Marshall McLuhan talks about in his classic 1964 book, Understanding Media.

Note: If you wish to participate in this seminar you will be REQUIRED to obtain and read this book.

Be warned: despite its title, many find McLuhan's book is not easy to understand! McLuhan says, 'The Medium is the Message,' while his writing moves so fast and fluidly from thought to thought that he often leaves his readers behind gasping for breath. In order to enjoy the ride you must (1) like ideas and (2) be prepared to expand your idea of what media are and (3) let go of your existing preconceptions about what media do (especially 'new media'). The reward is a thousand and one insights into mankind's relation to media (which McLuhan defines as extensions of our powers and senses). This is the sort of book that you will keep on reading and re-reading for the rest of your life. You shouldn't expect to 'get it' all at once.

Summary: in our opinion 'Understanding Media' is the single most important book ever written on the subject.

Method: One chapter at a time will be selected for study, such as the chapter on 'Roads' or 'Clocks' or 'The Press.' After reading, each seminar participant will be expected to put one or more of the ideas found within the chapter into practice in his or her own way. Once every six weeks the group will meet to show and discuss their work.

Further details: I'll answer questions about the seminar and explain what I expect from participants at our first meeting on Friday, the 16th of September 1999.

Source Code

As stated above, 'Understanding Media' is required. The other three books listed below are highly recommended. Note: The Amazon links are to pages that contain comment and opinions about the books by readers. The Proxis links are for online ordering. Proxis offers 3 distinct advantages over Amazon: (1) You don't need to use a credit card. (2) You get a Hfl. 10 discount on your first order. (3) Because it is based in Belgium, it ships *much* cheaper to the Netherlands.

McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. 1964.
Read about at Amazon | Order at Proxis

Blackmore, Susan. The Meme Machine. 1999.
Read about at Amazon | Order at Proxis

Kurzweil, Ray. The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence. 1999.
Read about at Amazon | Order at Proxis

Brin, David. The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? 1998.
Read about at Amazon | Order at Proxis

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Last modified: 29/9/99; 08:14:40 CET