posted by Nate
Last week, John Dvorak, columnist for PC Magazine, wrote an article for Fox News titled The Internet is Making Us Dumber, in which he lamented the decline of major newspapers, magazines, and TV news. He believes that by turning away from the traditional mass media outlets, we have lost an important perspective, which he describes as “generalized or common knowledge.” In other words, because we can select from a much wider range of outlets for information on the Internet, we’re no longer on the same page when we meet at the watercooler to discuss current events.
Here’s one of the more entertaining nuggets from the piece, where he describes the current state of the public as it spends more time consuming news on the web:
Meanwhile, the public continues to read about what they already know. And they hang out only with like-minded people. There are huge cadres of people who are practically duplicates of each other. They all think alike, dress alike, and go to the same group-approved places. With the slow death of newspapers, this beehive-like behavior is only going to get worse.”
Let me get this straight: with the ability to choose where and how we get our news via the Internet, we’re becoming clones, and only when we return the days of a handful of newspapers and TV news outlets will we recapture a “worldly” perspective? I fail to see how limiting our access to choice helps to avoid conformity and groupthink.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Dvorak has been ridiculously off-base, such as the time he predicted the iphone would be passé within three months of its release. It’s just strange to hear this from a tech journalist who is obviously no luddite. Who knows, perhaps he’s simply found a niche as the contrarian old codger. But then again, maybe I’m missing something here. Have we lost something special by moving away from the collective conversations we once had with only three major news anchors and the one major local paper? Were we really smarter then?