In “Among the Disrupted,” the cover essay for the New York Times Book Review (January 18, 2015) Leon Wieseltier laments how devices are often valued over books, technology seems ascendant over the humanities, hunger for instant information has replaced the long search for wisdom, and the meaning of humanity has been reduced to the mechanistic. All worthy concerns, I would say, even if you or I would parse things differently in places from Mr. Wieseltier.
You can read his essay here.
And to get you started pondering the ideas Wieseltier raises, here are few quotes from “Among the Disrupted”:
“Journalistic institutions slowly transform themselves into silent sweatshops in which words cannot wait for thoughts, and first responses are promoted into best responses, and patience is a professional liability. As the frequency of expression grows, the force of expression diminishes: Digital expectations of alacrity and terseness confer the highest prestige upon the twittering cacophony of one-liners and promotional announcements. It was always the case that all thing must pass, but this is ridiculous.”
“The distinction between knowledge and information is a thing of the past, and there is no greater disgrace than to be a thing of the past.”
“Aside from issues of life and death, there is no more urgent task for American intellectuals and writers than to think critically about the salience, even the tyranny, of technology in individual and collective life.”
“The processing of information is not the highest aim to which the human spirit can aspire, and neither is competitiveness in a global economy. The character of our society cannot be determined by engineers.”
“Every technology is used before it is completely understood. There is always a lag between an innovation and the apprehension of its consequences. We are living in that lag, and it is a right time to keep our heads and reflect. We have much to gain and much to lose. In the media, for example, the general inebriation about the multiplicity of platforms has distracted many people from the scruple that questions of quality on the new platforms should be no different from questions of quality on the old platforms. Otherwise a quantitative expansion will result in a qualitative contraction. The new devices do not in themselves authorize a revision of the standards of evidence and argument and style that we championed in the old devices.”