Breaking my blog-fast for a moment to point you to a flash video from the future describing the media landscape of 2014. As the New York Times is reduced to a pamphlet for the “elite and elderly”, a Google/Blogger/Amazon/TiVo collaborative app called EPIC serves customized content to each user based on a complex blend of personal information. Special algorithms scrape single sentences from blog and news articles to create a limitless torrent described as “narrow”, “shallow”, and “trivial.” In other words, asserts the narrator, “it’s what we wanted.”
A colleague of mine recently described the Internet, and the knowledge of its attendant young generation, as a ocean two inches deep. Does the pursuit of semiotic democracy and participatory culture require deeper scrutiny? Does a diversity of voices lead to a lack of expertise and the devaluation of all information?
I maintain that as access barriers weaken, public education must strengthen in proportion. To responsibly wield the democratizing software tools being created, a population must have the intangible tools of critical thinking and media literacy firmly in place. Do our cultural values presently reflect this need?