Tagged: NY Times

Twitter makes You stupid (but Us clever)

Here is a very thought provoking post (sorry, article) by Bill Keller, executive editor of the NY Times.  I especially like the historical perspective and connection to Gutenberg – something which is not debated or understood enough.  We cannot really understand social media unless we also understand history, which is why I always begin my “What is social media?” presentations by looking back 600 years so that we can understand the extent to which our world has been shaped by the enforced marriage between information and expensive distribution technologies – a marriage which social media is ending (because media – the ability to distribute information – is no longer expensive and information is now liberated).

In much the same way as Keller highlights the cognitive trade-offs that have occurred as technology has developed (books effectively reducing our capacity to remember for example) it would seem logical that there will be some form of trade-off associated with social media.  And it may well be that the trade-off is that collectively we become more intelligent and powerful, but individually we become more stupid.  Perhaps it may be that stupid is not the word – rather we will become become more dependant – not just on the technology itself but the forms of community it is bringing into being.   We become a bit of number of brains rather that a brain in itself.  This may be a good thing, or it may not – but it important that we are aware that it is happening and adapt to its implications.

NY Times versus TechCrunch – a silly argument

There has recently been a bit of a flap going on within technology reporting circles between bloggers and reporters.  At issue is the concern that blogs publish unfounded rumours, whereas newspapers publish only the truth (that old chestnut).  At the centre of this curfluffle is this piece in the NY Times.

At heart it is a stupid debate that is founded in the inability (on probably both sides of the argument) to recognise that social media is fundamentally different from institutionalised media.  As I have said before –  truth within social media is founded in process.  It is crystalised in the reception of information.  Truth within institutionalised media is vested in the publication of information.  Or as Clay Shirky has put it publish then filter versus filter then publish.  Jeff Jarvis also hits on the same issue here – although he couches it as product versus process.

It is only when newspapers work out how their world has been changed by social media and what their role is within it, that this debate can become fruitful.  Don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.