When we all have a voice that’s accessible 24/7, we begin to learn that agreement is hard to find.
The transparency brought about by the internet is a double edged sword. On the one hand it has brought unlimited information to our finger tips, very positive in terms of increasing knowledge. On the other hand it has brought unlimited information to our finger tips allowing us to see just how different our views on truth and fact are.
As Clay Shirky says in this article, “there seems to be less respect for consensus because there is less respect for consensus. This change is not good or bad per se — it has simply made agreement a scarcer commodity across all issues of public interest. The erosion of controls on public speech have enabled Birthers to make their accusations against the President public; it also allows newly-emboldened groups — feminists, atheists, Muslims, Mormons — to press their issues in public, in opposition to traditional public beliefs, a process similar to gay rights post-Stonewall, but now on a faster and more national scale.”
“Both a young child’s brain and our young, global Internet brain are in highly creative, experimental, innovative states of rapid development — just waiting to make connections. So, here’s a question for the 21st century: How do we help shape both of these young, rapidly growing networks to set a course for a better future?”
The opportunity and responsibility we, as a global society, have to create any future we want is pretty amazing!
A new book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, chronicling the history and incentives of media. Essentially, media is the business of making money through advertising. In order to get that advertising they need circulation. In order to get circulation they need to get our attention. That’s where it all goes down hill, reporters are to cover the news when it’s there and make it up when it’s not.
A brief history of media from the book.
The Party Press: The earliest form of news was one-stop-shop. The editor, publisher, writer and printer was the same person. His service was to communicate ideas and information about important issues and his dedication was to the political part of the town.
The Yellow Press: 1833 marked the first evolution of media, paying for the news. This started the iconic “read all about it” selling on the street corner.
The Modern Stable Press: The New York Times, “All the News That’s Fit to Print” mission ushered in quality news for low costs through subscription models.
À la Carte Press: It’s no longer about selling a package of new. Every story is its own mini paper being sold in a virtual version of the “read all about it” street corner model from the 1830’s.
The write up on Farnam Street is more in depth than the summary above and also cites related books on the topic.
5 critical thinking skills a Hamilton College Professor, Paul Gary, teaches his students. (explanations for each can be found at the link at the bottom of this post)
1. The ability to think empirically, not theoretically.
2. The ability to think in terms of multiple, rather than single, causes.
3. The ability to think in terms of the sizes of things, rather than only in terms of their direction.
4. The ability to think like foxes, not hedgehogs.
5. The ability to understand one’s own biases.
When asked to make the next national security strategy Captain Wayne Porter and Col. Mark Mykleby’s response was, we don’t need another security strategy we need a national strategic narrative. Why? Here is the current narrative, created during the cold war:
“The United States is the leader of the free world against the communist world. We will invest in containing the Soviet Union and limiting its expansion while building a dynamic economy and as just, and prosperous a society as possible.”
First off, the biggest problem with this is the Soviet Union no longer exists. The second is that “containing” something is not only out of touch with today’s world it also promotes a closed system.
Their idea for a new narrative promote less military force, more social capital and more sustainable practices in energy and agriculture. Sound good to me! Here is their proposal for a new narrative:
“The United States wants to become the strongest competitor and most influential player in a deeply inter-connected global system, which requires that we invest less in defense and more in sustainable prosperity and the tools of effective global engagement.”
Not perfect, but vastly better than our current narrative.