Variations on a theme

Over the weekend, Salon published an interview with David Weinberger that touches on Sunday’s post about where to lay responsibility for adjusting to new technologies:

[Q:] One of the characteristics of the Web seems to be the flattening of news. If you look at a site like Buzzfeed, it has reports about the death of Kim Jong Il right next to viral videos about cats. It’s jarring — and seems a little amoral.

[A:] You are pointing to the benefits of having a very small aperture for news. That aperture was controlled by full-time professional editors, but it means that what comes through the news hole now is anything anybody is interested in enough to post. On the other hand, when you have so few apertures for news and they’re controlled by such a similar set of people, you get a certain limited set of stories. We at least now have the opportunity to create filters that let in more than the traditional room of middle-aged white men. If we’re not reading the stuff that matters, it’s our fault.

Sites like Buzzfeed or reddit that are aggregating based upon user suggestions reflect what users are interested in. It turns out that we’re interested in is a pretty broad range of stuff, and most of it isn’t all that serious. A lot of it is just funny or in some cases distasteful, but it turns out that is what we’re interested in. The challenge is trying to educate our interests, but that’s what education is about.

The rest of the interview is exuberant and sometimes extreme  [“I believe this is the greatest time in human history”], but it’s worth a read. It certainly illustrates why it’s more engaging to learn about technology from someone who studies it than from someone who avoids it.

(ht The Browser)

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