A friend who’s also a librarian sent me links to a couple of posts on the Britannica Blog that she said would get a rise out of me.
I don’t know about that but they certainly got me thinking.
In the first, Web 2.0: The Sleep of Reason, Part 1, the writer starts by trying to tie together blogging, alternative medicine, and creationism.
With that auspicious start, he then goes on to present this incredibly narrow definition of learning.
Human beings learn, essentially, in only two ways. They learn from experience–the oldest and earliest type of learning–and they learn from people who know more than they do. The second kind of learning comes from either personal contact with living people–teachers, gurus, etc.–or through interaction with the human record, that vast assemblage of texts, images, and symbolic representations that have come to us from the past and is being added to in the present. It is this latter way of learning that is under threat in the realm of digital resources.
Wow! That’s one of the most intellectually arrogant statements I’ve read in a long time.
That little pile of crap was followed with a short entry by Andrew Keen, the writer who thinks all of us online amateurs are monkeys, or worse.
As you might expect, Keen enthusiastically endorses the first essay, saying that Web 2.0 is a “cultural and intellectual catastrophe that will provoke mass media illiteracy in America”.
So, what does he suggest we do to stop this potential disaster?
The challenge now is political. It’s to build a coalition of people philosophically opposed to the corrosive ideas in Web 2.0. This is a sales and marketing job. We’ve got to reach leaders in education, business, politics, media and the arts who care about the future of our culture.
We need more books and articles about the crisis of authoritative media, more forums like this one at the Britannica Blog. We need to force this issue onto the national political agenda.
A first step for Keen would probably be to have Everything is Miscellaneous banned. The ideas in Weinberger’s excellent book are pretty much the polar opposite of what is being peddled by these two writers.
By the way, whatever you call the Britannica site, it is not a blog. At least not according to a very biased opinion on my non-authoritative, Web 2.0, amateur web site.