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The Death of Smart (again)

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2009 at 6:19 pm

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I’ve been having a great discussion with the Social Media group over on LinkedIn. (http://tinyurl.com/mcclzp)

The latest round has gotten us going on credibility and trust in both new media and traditional media. Reminds me of a column I wrote for Chatter years ago. I thought it might be worth a reprise. Read the whole thing here. It’s pretty long and really more about church than culture. But here’s an excerpt that might make for good conversation:

Fifty years ago, what you knew was very important. We elected leaders and trusted teachers if they had amassed an impressive amount of information. They must have studied. They must have done research in windowless libraries with dusty books. But now information (both good and bad, accurate and inaccurate) is available to a much wider audience with must less effort in its discovery. Thus we don’t value knowledge as much as our grandparents did. We elect politicians because we liked them in a movie or a sport. We shrug when a president can’t recall the name of a country’s foreign minister…

Witness this blog. I don’t have a degree in social science of any kind so why read something by someone who is obviously not an authority on the subject? Or consider the blog format at all: part of the function of newspapers and publishers used to be that they were vouching for their content. The reporter or essayist was someone who knew their stuff, someone the public could trust. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have his own book or column. So why do post-moderns read blogs by people they don’t know and don’t know if they can trust? Because facts aren’t as important as they used to be. Facts are cheap. Thus the teacher, the person with all the answers, is no longer the leader we’re drawn to follow. In fact, we’re suspicious of anyone who has answers.

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