13 December 2009

Some things never change

Marshall McLuhan recalls a prank that used to do the rounds in the days at the turn of the (previous) century when the telephone was still a novelty and people were not so au fait with new technologies. A practical joker would ring up his friends, pretending to be a telephone engineer. He would then proceed to inform them that the telephone lines would be cleaned out that day. Subscribers should cover their phones with an old sheet, otherwise the room would fill with dirt during the cleaning process. Then the prankster would rush round to his friends’ homes, enjoying a laugh at their expense as they covered everything in sheets and waited for the lines to be blown out and cleared. (Marshall McLuhan. Understanding Media. The Extensions of Man. London: Routledge, 1987 [1964], p.268).

The other day (purely coincidentally) I read Dilbert’s modern take on this eternal problem of blocked wires (http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/dilbert-20070913.html accessed Friday, 11 December 2009). ‘New’ technology is not so new after all when it poses the same old challenges for the not so technologically minded.

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Squeaky Door by Elizabeth Chairopoulou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.