After The Mass-Age...
Early last fall, I joined a project that proved as mind-stretching as it was enjoyable. I had already worked with Chris Riley and his strategic insights and planning practice, Studioriley, and, between that effort and our previous conversations during my master's research, we had a good rapport (just sayin', Joe Strummer and Bowie and Henry Rollins and other cultural affinities may have factored in there).
Anyway, I was delighted to be asked, as editor, to help shape his response to Marshall McLuhan's seminal 1967 text The Medium Is the Massage/Mass Age—or as so many know it, The Medium Is the Message. (A printing error proved fateful, and resonant.) Fifty years after McLuhan ushered media studies into the zeitgeist, Chris wanted to explore a variety of topics "after the Mass-Age" of top-down culture: leadership, ethics, trust, and more. The result is a thoughtful, oft provocative reconsideration of our values and what it means to learn from instead of about our world. As intense as the process was, I had a blast working on the book. Chris is as inspiring as he is generous, and even had I not had a part in this, I would recommend it.
From the book's back cover:
In 1967, Marshall McLuhan-the father of media studies-published The Medium Is the Massage, his era-defining examination of mass media and its global impact. Now, on the fiftieth anniversary of the book, Chris Riley begins a new conversation. The Mass-Age has ended, he says, and we must find a new way forward. Where media was once a top-down endeavor, dominated by Western values and corporations, it is now a flat network, one in which all can participate. The question then, is how to account for this diversity of perspectives? How do we create trust and collaboration in a seemingly fragmented world? The answer, according to Riley, is learning from. When we learn from cultures, not about them, we participate in deep listening and genuine collaborations that benefit the many rather than enriching the few. With insights culled from his long career as a creative professional, Riley's collection of essays-offered in tandem with images from photographers around the world-speaks to fellow industry professionals and beyond, to explore how leaders in the business, social, and political worlds can best serve after the Mass-Age.