Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Laws of Media

Was just reading an essay by McLuhan that was released in more complete form as a book in the early 90s called “Laws of Media.” In it McLuhan presents the four basic questions for examining any medium:

a) What does it enhance?

b) What does it obsolesce?

c) What does it retrieve that had been obsolesced earlier?

d) What does it flip into when pushed to the limits of its potential?

Because like most things McLuhan it’s fairly complicated, the examples help quite a bit. Take this one for the spoken word:

a) [Enhances:] “Speak that I may see thee.” (Title of book by Harold Stahmer);

b) Obsolesces the subhuman;

c) Retrieves past experience;

d) [Flipped into when pushed to limits:] Group awareness and class structure.

January 24, 2011