Tech Media Obsessed With Deals & Rumors – Bring Back Ideas


Tech Media Obsessed With Deals & Rumors – Bring Back Ideas

Big ideas aren’t prevalent anymore, posited academic and author Neal Gabler in a New York Times op-ed. “We are living in an increasingly post-idea world,” he wrote, “a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t instantly be monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are disseminating them, the Internet notwithstanding.”

While this could be seen as just another variation of ‘the Internet makes you dumb’ argument, a favorite of academics and contrarian technology writers, Gabler’s article touched a nerve for me. As I look around at my own industry, tech news, there is certainly no shortage of content. But ideas… those we’re bereft of. Tech media today is driven by deals and speculation. There are plenty of ideas-driven people too, but you generally won’t find them at the top of Techmeme anymore.

Neal Gabler lists several characteristics of his post-idea world:

“There is the eclipse of the public intellectual in the general media by the pundit who substitutes outrageousness for thoughtfulness, and the concomitant decline of the essay in general-interest magazines. And there is the rise of an increasingly visual culture, especially among the young — a form in which ideas are more difficult to express.”

Information & Thinking

So: less intellectuals, more pundits; less essays, more posts; less text, more visuals. But Gabler is careful not to blame any of those factors for the lack of ideas. Rather, he notes that the huge increase in the availability of information has caused the post-idea era:

“The real cause may be information itself. It may seem counterintuitive that at a time when we know more than we have ever known, we think about it less.
(emphasis mine)

It’s a valid argument, although one that futurist and author Bruce Sterling disagrees with. What Gabler is really lamenting, according to Sterling, “is how annoying it is to have the former-audience tweeting at each other instead of reading the New York Times.”

There’s some truth in that observation, in that the world of ideas is no longer limited to intellectual figureheads talking down to the rest of us.

However, I mostly think Gabler is right: we know a lot, but before we can think about it deeply we’ve moved onto the next thing. Certainly in the tech blogosphere, which has been my intellectual playground for the past decade, I’ve noticed a distinct downward spiral in ideas.

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Article Source: ReadWriteWeb