Global Village

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Global Village is a term closely associated with Marshall McLuhan,[1] popularized in his books The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1962) and Understanding Media (1964). McLuhan describes how the globe has been contracted into a village by electric technology[2] and the instantaneous movement of information from every quarter to every point at the same time [3]. In bringing all social and political functions together in a sudden implosion, electric speed has heightened human awareness of responsibility to an intense degree [4]. Today, the term "Global Village" is mostly used as a metaphor to describe the Internet and World Wide Web.[citation needed] On the Internet, physical distance is even less of a hindrance to the real-time communicative activities of people, and therefore social spheres are greatly expanded by the openness of the web and the ease at which people can search for online communities and interact with others that share the same interests and concerns. Therefore, this technology fosters the idea of a conglomerate yet unified global community.[5] Due to the enhanced speed of communication online and the ability of people to read about, spread, and react to global news very rapidly, McLuhan says this forces us to become more involved with one another from countries around the world and be more aware of our global responsibilities. Similarly, web-connected computers enable people to link their web sites together. This new reality has implications for forming new sociological structures within the context of culture.


There is some disagreement in the consideration of the Internet as promoting the idea of a global village. Modern theorist Glenn Willmott says McLuhan's idea of the Global Village is a clichéd phrase that does not take into account the corruption of the Internet by government and corporate censorship and control over information on the web (news and entertainment information in particular). [7] The notion of the digital divide also signifies why the idea of global village is the problem is because we have more technical things these days. The idea of a Global Village is problematic; not all people are connected to the Internet equally (notably the economically disadvantaged) and those that lack web access are excluded from global news and participating in online communities, then modern communication technology does not truly promote a Global Village as McLuhan described it for all people. Communication media can also be used to divide people within the sphere of online communities. For example, scholars Marshall Van Alstyne and Erik Brynjolfsson offer a contrasting view in their paper, "Electronic Communities: Global Village or Cyberbalkans?" [8] They say that although modern communication technologies have the potential to create the unified communities reminiscent of McLuhan's idea of the Global Village, they also threaten to balkanize or fragment communities by allowing people to easily segregate themselves into geographic and special interest groups.

From Global Village to Global Theater

No chapter in Understanding Media, or later books, contains the idea that the Global Village and the electronic media create unified communities. In fact, in an interview with Gerald Stearn [9], McLuhan says that it never occurred to him that uniformity and tranquillity were the properties of the Global Village. The Global Village insures maximal disagreement on all points because it creates more discontinuity and division and diversity under the increase of the village conditions. The Global Village is far more diverse, full of fighting. After the publication of Understanding Media, McLuhan starts to use the term Global Theater to emphasise the changeover from consumer to producer, from acquisition to involvement, from job holding to role playing, stressing that there is no more community to clothe the naked specialist [10].

Global Village (Dubai)

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