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Joseph P. Duggan writing in the American Spectator notes that today is the late Marshall McLuhan’s centennial.

Duggan recalls him as “a man born on the western Canadian prairies” who pointed out several decades ago that “the medium is the message” and “the human family now exists under conditions of a global village.”

McLuhan came to mind again in April when I visited Washington and heard Senator John McCain report on a visit to Tahrir Square in Cairo. He found it remarkable that a young leader of the Cairo protests had told him, “our hero is Mark Zuckerberg .” Not a reincarnation of Gandhi, not a hot new Nasser, but a twenty-something Jewish atheist from White Plains, New York who was a prodigy in physics, math, Latin and ancient Greek before dropping out of Harvard.

Half a century ago, when color television broadcasting was still in its infancy, in a single paragraph McLuhan forecast the personal computer, Google, Wikipedia, e-commerce, artificial intelligence, and several generations of multimedia World Wide Web technologies. Here is what McLuhan wrote in The Gutenberg Galaxy: “The next medium, whatever it is — it may be the extension of consciousness — will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual’s encyclopedic function and flip it into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind.”

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