Speculations on the impact of global electronic networks on human cognition and human organization

Michael S. Nilan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We are on the verge of a significant change in the dominant communication technology from mass media (“one voice talking to many”) to a more democratic and creative technology in the form of global electronic networks (“many voices speaking to many”). This paper examines the relationship between a society's dominant communication technology and Marshall McLuhan's concerns for human cognition as well as between the technology and the ways that human beings organize their societies. In terms of the relationship between dominant communication media and human organization, Jacques Ellul's notion of “sociological propaganda” is used to examine potential implications of networks on human organization. The paper concludes that electronic networks have great potential for improving the richness of human cognition and facilitating democratic organizing but that public money needs to be devoted to the development of the networks in order to help insure universal access to the networks and to insure diversity and open exchange on those networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternet Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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