A Vector

This quote (more like a paragraph) was entirely too long to post to twitter. Here it is in it’s (almost) entirety, from McLuhan’s The Medium Is the Message.

“General David Sarnoff made this statement: ‘We are too prone to make technological instruments the scapegoats for the sins of those who wield them. The products of modern science are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used that determines their value.'”

McLuhan responds with the following.

Suppose we were to say ‘Apple pie is in itself neither good nor bad; it is the way it is used that determines its value.’ Or “The smallpox virus is in itself neither good nor bad; it is the way that it is used that determines its value… I am not being perverse. There is simply nothing in the Sarnoff statement that will bear scrutiny, for it ignores the nature of the medium, of any and all media, in the true Narcissus style of one hypnotized by the amputation and extension of his pwn being in the new technical form.

In the context of what we’ve been writing about these past two months, I felt that it was worthwhile to consider. I have taken the Sarnoff position in the past; it’s people that kill people etc. McLuhan’s beautiful rhetoric has convinced me otherwise; and I hope it inspires much thought.

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