Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dropping The Hat

Last week, we attended a talk with Patt Morrison. The topic seemed interesting, discussing the importance of civic and media education. Yet the KPCC and LA Times pundit failed to deliver. After 45 minutes of hearing the hatty lady disparage the blogosphere and the internet in general as sources of all civic and media ills -- mocking Wikipedia and The Huffington Post on the way -- we had our dose and left.

One question we had was: What if people resort to online sources because the mainstream media (MSM) have dumbed themselves down to near irrelevance -- the LA Times being a painful case in point? For one piece of genuine reporting, how many "If it bleeds, it leads" silly frills? And what about Morrison's applause of a proud 80-year old attendee who never touched a computer, and swears by the typewriter -- which, she argued, gives you control over your thoughts when the computer doesn't? 21st Century, anyone?

The dumbing down of society is risky business for democracy, but calling out technology and multimedia communication as Big Culprits is just wacky conspiracy theory. The internet is not pretending to take out MSM, and not all bloggers pretend to be reporters or even "writers." The two are not mutually exclusive. Yet it is the nature of technological (and human) development to keep evolving, so better embrace than disgrace the online world -- especially at this stage where it's still open to shaping. It's called being proactive; as opposed to being reactive, which has been MSM's strategy of choice so far.

Incidentally, our computers' Webster-based spell-check won't accept "blogosphere," even though we've installed the latest operating systems. We find it quite telling.

UPDATES: Salon asked, Is the Internet melting our brains? No, replies A Better Pencil author Dennis Barron, "Every communication advancement throughout human history, from the pencil to the typewriter to writing itself, has been met with fear, skepticism and a longing for the medium that's been displaced." And to Mark Lacter: Michael Moore's "big mouth" was right on target this time.

No comments: