Seminar 2: Extension

One of Marshall McLuhan's most radical ideas was that technology extended natural human abilities, changing how we think, feel, and act, even affecting the way we process information and perceive the world around us. Technology, he argued, could be used to extend and enhance aspects of the human body or mind. So a bike or car can be regarded as extentions of feet, binoculars as extentions of the eye, headphones as extentions of the ear, and the internet as an extension of the mind.

Now, social media has transformed the way we communicate with one another, and subsequently overthrown the authority of traditional media. Many of the consequences of new media have been unintended, but have produced noticable social effects, affecting policing, the Judiciary and personal privacy. Videogame play is a vivid example of an everyday and intense extension of the human in and through media technology.

In this talk, the panel discuss the effects of media extension with emphasis on gaming, and the behavioural changes that it has created.

The Panel:

Rachel Coldicutt is a digital strategist and producer. She was until recently Head of Digital Media at the Royal Opera House, and now runs a creative agency called Caper. She is the founder of Culture Hack Day and blogs at    

Seth Giddings teaches theory and practice of digital media at the University of the West of England. He is co-author of Lister et al New Media: a critical introduction, (2nd edition: 2009), and editor of The New Media and Technocultures Reader (2011).

The panel was chaired by Simon Poulter, an artist and curator based in London. Simon develops programmes and commissions for a variety of organisations including MAC, Metal and the AND festival. He has recently become Head of Programme at Metal, developing projects in Liverpool and Southend. 

McLuhan's Message is a Watershed Project in partnership with the Digital Cultures Research Centre at the University of West of England. Curated by Simon Poulter.

Posted on Thu 6 Oct 2011.