17 January 2009

McLuhan Citing #11, with a Sammy Pepys supplement

Google Alerts is a funny tool. Every day, my inbox fills with neat little updates, showing me exactly where and how a set of names and phrases that I've entered are being used across the web. Kind of like a live archeaological dig of the internet, with the find predetermined by me.

For instance, are you aware that Marshall McLuhan's famous phrase "the medium is the message" is being used to describe how the manipulation of salmonella in spaceflight curtails infectiousness? And to lament the deplorable treatment of children at large educational technology learning festivals? The interpretation is way off ("message" here is not synonymous with "content"), but somehow I think McLuhan wouldn't mind. I mean, the medium is the message, right?

Most interesting, though, is a recent addition: Sammy Pepys. His alerts are usually pretty quiet, mostly just people linking the online version of his Diary. Lately, though, as our economy sinks deeper into the rank mire we like to call capitalism (until, of course, it needs bailing), it's become popular to cite our Sammy as a model financial citizen.

Why? Because he stored his cash under his mattress, of course.

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