I wanted to show you that video for a couple of reasons. First it makes the point clearer and faster than I can. Technology, particularly computer technology has permeated daily life for Americans. And the speed at which it develops and grows is exponential. Technology has changed the way we live our lives and the way that we relate to one another, in our families, in classrooms and around the globe.
The world we live in is intricately connected in a sometimes shocking way. But this shrinking world idea is nothing new. It’s defiantly more apparent these days, and a little disturbing because it is moving so rapidly. But people have anticipated this global connectedness via the internet for a very, very long time, even before the world wide web was ever created, some folks anticipated a new technology that would connect the masses in a whole new way.
You may be familiar with the name Marshal McLuhan. There has been some talk about him in recent weeks because July 21st marked the centennial of his birthday.
He was an English teacher and a public thinker. But most importantly, he was a media critic. He came up with Timothy Leary’s famous saying, “Turn on, tune in, drop out,” about engaging in your intellectual life and political action, using LSD, and dropping out of society to practice self reliance in the 1960s. Needless to say he was a controversial figure.
But I’m talking about him today, because he’s the person that coined the phrase global village, the title of the sermon. Amazingly, McLuhan came up with this idea 30 years before the world wide web was ever invented. And he described a global village that would one day be made possible by a flow and freedom of information that was shockingly similar to what you and I know as the internet.
McLuhan’s major concept was that the medium is the message. That is to say, the technology used to convey information is more impactful than the information itself. In Oral traditions, stories are told over and over again, passed down through families and clans. The effect is an enrichment of human relationships and kinship. McLuhan believed that the creation of the printing press created a society that was geared toward mechanization, and sameness. Books could be printed, but a limited number of them. There existed a great ability to spread information, but that information came through centralized places, printing presses. But the Global Village would change all that. With what McLuhan predicted as a technologically based “expansion of consciousness”, what we know as the internet, information would flow freely from one individual to another. The global village would be a vast web of involved relationship where people were compelled to care about a wider sphere of concerns. Also, diversity of opinion would flourish as the ability to generate media became accessible to the masses. Welcome to the blogosphere. It’s a lovely picture of mutual respect and freedom that he painted. But it remains to be seen if the internet and the proliferation of digital technology will serve to unite this village, or be just another platform for competition and strife.
But this question of getting long is with technogy is much older than even McLuhan. In fact it’s a challenge as old as civilization. I want to talk a little bit about the reading that we did earlier in the worship service. No doubt these words are familiar to most, if not all of you. It’s beautiful language, probably made most popular to modern American by the way Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King used the words in many of his speeches. They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into prunninghooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against...