Heffernan: The McLuhan of the Interwebs?

So Virginia Heffernan, “The Medium” columnist for The New York Times Magazine, is currently shopping a book about…the Internet.

Yes. But before your eyes roll too far toward the back of your head, take note: this won’t be just any book about the Web, the New York Observer reports. Tentatively titled The Pleasures of the Internet: How to Live in the New Online Civilization, Heffernan’s will be a work, apparently, about the aesthetics of the Internet—specifically, per the proposal, one that will treat the Web as a collaborative work of art that has “a poetics, a scale, a palette, a rhythm, a sensibility, a set of rituals and spectacles, a system of metaphors and an emotional range.”

Well, well. While, sure, it’s easy to laugh off this notion as so much Web-focused thumb-suckery….in the right hands, such an aestheticized treatment could actually be quite brilliant. And Heffernan’s proposal, at any rate—the cover letter of which declares the writer’s intent to illuminate the Web in “the way Ian Watt and Leslie Fiedler showed readers how to approach novels, Pauline Kael showed us how to approach movies, Lester Bangs showed us how to approach rock music, Susan Sontag showed us how to approach photography and George Trow and Marshall McLuhan showed us how to approach television”—suggests, when taken in light of her prior work in this area, that her hands might just be the right ones for the endeavor.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.