So, after writing yesterday about how our brain can change and therefore knowing we are in a state of flux from one state to another due to technology, and thinking further about how we obtain information and interact with it is fascinating. We are in a state of social and cultural change, let alone cognitive change. That is the part of understanding the context for the death of newspapers but these things need a long-view perspective. This week the Seattle Intelligencer (did I spell that right?) went to online only. Have you looked lately at how thin the printed editions of Time and Newsweek have become? The end of the printed newspaper is being hastened by the economic situation.
The death of newspapers is an example of social disruption.
When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.
There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie.
Tim O'Reilly also spoke and he "began by saying that we're in a bubble - but not an investment one, a reality bubble. The financial crisis was top of his list, but he also referred to health, climate and so on... O'Reilly then spoke about 'the long now', which he said has been a big influence in his life and business. He explained that we should look at the long view, not just the 'right now'."
So, think of the Word of God, just to put this in a long view. Only a few held it in their hands but that changed with the advent of the printing press and moveable type. In the beginning there was the word. But it wasn't printed. I'm really going off on a long-view tangent, but think, the Westward movement was a religious/political cultural thing (Greek to Roman, to Catholic, to the Protestant Revolution) so I use this as an example in understanding our societal underpinnings in the U.S. Which are being extremely disrupted. Some say civilization would never have been possible without writing. Text is becoming intangible.
So what is the long view? How will this revolution and extreme disruption play out? Well, the word is moving away from print, moving to cloud form with the growth of cloud computing and consolidation in server capacity/ownership - "on a scale unimaginable before. At the same time, of course, the computing power at the edges, ie, in the devices that we all use, is also growing rapidly," Nicholas Carr writes. So if you think about the internet being just 40 years old, and we're moving into a huge second stage... then...
Carr (who wrote last summer Is Google Making Us Stupid) more recently says in The Sun: "We used to have an intellectual ideal that we could contain within ourselves the whole of civilization." He's now enjoying a one-up on his ideas that the new technology is changing our cognition, since when he first expressed his ideas, Google's CEO Eric Schmidt belittled the idea that Google was making us stupid. He quotes Schmidt on a recent Charlie Rose interview (Carr's blog article also has the link to the Rose interview):
“I worry that the level of interrupt, the sort of overwhelming rapidity of information — and especially of stressful information — is in fact affecting cognition. It is in fact affecting deeper thinking. I still believe that sitting down and reading a book is the best way to really learn something. And I worry that we’re losing that.”
The King of Cloud, Google's Schmidt, is just now realizing the huge disruptive link between tangible text and learning?
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein said. The economic changes will hasten our changes. The cheese has moved, societally and culturally. So has the word. To the clouds.