Click on image to view key passage of JFK's speech.Full title:

"Into the Voids and Vanishing Points: Spaceship Earth and Space Age Media Theory"

Author: Barry Vacker

Published in:

Contact Forum series of The Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts, Spring 2012.

Read/download the paper: Space Age Media Theory

Originally presented at the 2011 McLuhan's Philosophy of Media Centennial Conference, Brussels.

View/download the powerpoint: PDF


At one time, the space age promised a new realm of mediated knowledge that would revolutionize human civilization on Spaceship Earth. Consider the following quotes:

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. […] The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation… — President Kennedy, Moon Speech, Rice University, 1962

I feel that we’re standing on the threshold of a liberating and exhilarating world in which the human tribe can become truly one family and man’s consciousness can be freed from the shackles of mechanical culture and enabled to roam the cosmos. I have a deep and abiding belief in man’s potential to grow and learn, to plumb the depths of his own being and to learn the secret songs that orchestrate the universe. — Marshall McLuhan, 1969

This paper explores what humans have done in the wake the "new knowledge" revealed by media technologies. Since the word limit for articles in the publication was 4000 words, this paper offers only a beginning exploration, yet it is no less thought-provoking and extremely relevant for our current era. The paper is based on Vacker's presentation at the McLuhan's Philosophy of Media Centennial Conference in Brussels in 2011. 


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