Shuffling through my weekly mountain of undigested news, I stumbled on a nice article in the Wall Street Journal on how Digital Media have created countless gigabytes of text, sound, and images… most of it created by people who understand little of the professional standards and practices for media. One might think that this produces an un-fresh sea of mediocrity, eroding quality and acceptability, and steering humanity as we know it directly into chaos and intellectual collapse.
But do not jump too quickly to the wrong conclusions. Since Gutenberg invented the book press (and people eroded contemporary literature with vulgar versions of the Bible and its interpretation) , every increase in freedom to create or consume alarms people who want to defend the old system and set of metrics…. Every century, the “old ones” accuse the new technology to make the younger generation stupid. And still, humanity seems to get smarter, week by week…
Close to two billion people today are connected to the same network, spending more than a trillion hours a year of free time, creating a cognitive surplus so gigantic that even a tiny fraction of it that can be seen as “valuable” creates breathtaking positive effects.
The Wall Street Journal states that: “Increased freedom to create means increased freedom to create throwaway material, as well as freedom to indulge in the experimentation that eventually makes the good new stuff possible.”
On this rainy Sunday I agree. We’re watching a digital revolution: on communications, media, press, conversations, connections, privacy, work/life balance, and countless other holy grails. There is never an easy way through a revolution. We’ll have to ride it out, bolting the rails just in front of a fast moving train. Of one thing I’m convinced, in the end, when we will lick our wounds, and watch how the dust settles… we’ll discover it will have made us stronger, and smarter.