Just read an interesting article in The UK Guardian Observer by Tim Adams about the pitfalls of our general cultural movement toward the “always on” model of personal digital engagement. Some interesting quotes:
Slowly all the aspects of the world that were formerly external to us, out there – friends, shops, newspapers and now books – are being accommodated into this space, so that they can be contained almost entirely on our personalised screens.
We are quickly moving toward an era that will allow each of us to become the editor of our own newspaper and director of our own television schedule; our computers will help us in this process, listen to our histories, define our likes and dislikes and recommend accordingly; they will be our personal shoppers and cultural critics, reinforcing our tastes…This new solipsistic power, however, is unlikely to be without consequences.
Will anyone who is “always on” have the concentration to read the great social novels – those ultimate “interactions” with the world – on a screen? Will anyone be able to see far enough beyond themselves to write one?
If those seem like reasonable points, The Manual Typewriter Ideal, a rebuttal of sorts by Linda Holmes at NPR.com, is likely to annoy (if not solely because of the title, which implies that people who value traditional methods of reading and writing are, well, morons).
Linda Holmes fancifully calls the Guardian article “a distilled version of what people who hate the Internet believe about it,” and goes on distort most of the original’s points to support her curiously strident thesis. When I finished her piece, I remain unconvinced that we read the same article, but then again, I value traditional methods of writing and reading, and therefore, am likely a moron.