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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

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October 8, 2010

I'm not sure what this cartoon by John Spooner about the digital age means. Is it anti-technology? The computer means the decline of reading printed books? Or that the internet rots your brain and makes us stupid?


I'm interpreting it that way---as digital technology causing the waning of literary culture and its dire consequences for society. If this interpretation is plausible, then the cartoon is ironic as the only way that I can see the cartoon in Victor Harbor is by using digital technology: ie., a computer, the internet and broadband.

The main reason I'm reading less books these days is that I find them too expensive and I cannot afford to buy them. It is the economics that is forcing me to read books online.

The problem with the standard kind of arguments by a conservative literary culture is that they're fundamentally rehashing the technological opposition of the television age, the kind of opposition that McLuhan wrote about so powerfully back in the 1960s: word versus image, text versus screen. That was about the long-term decline towards a pure society of image.

Honestly, I would have thought we are better off in front of our computers and not zoning out in front of the TV--especially when are presented with junk such as Dangerous Ideas by Matt Frei. Frei can talk about the Enlightenment and modern Germany without once mentioning the German Enlightenment or Kant and Hegel.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:57 PM | | Comments (7)


Well I hope your sitting up straight while your doing that. The internet must of been good for chiropractors.
Perhaps this chap is learning to be a chiropractor on-line.

I find I don't read books much any more but I don't know that this is a problem. Books encourage such a passive absorption of what you hope is knowledge or wisdom, but may well not be. It took me many years to unlearn some of the things I thought were true from reading books as an impressionable youth.

In the digital age I have a much more interactive relationship with the published word. I believe I think more and read more critically than I used to. But then I would say that wouldn't I, and maybe I'm just rationalising the reduced concentration span that comes with advancing years :).

I used to be a guts for books. Telly has gone out the window.
Are these things- computers-just a sophisticated form of poker machine; certainly they have the same capacity of "grip" of a poker machine and I keep well clear of the pokies.
I took the cartoon in the sense of the death of literacy, intelligence and memory through overloaded, as I understand is suggested by commentators of the ilk of Baudrillard.

you can create with computers but not with pokies.

If we are a society besotted with screen-based infotainment, then there is a lot to be said for ready access to a backyard or a park. You can read a book in the backyard or park.

Sadly in the new suburban estates on the urban fringe the huge dwellings in these “roof to roof” estates don't have that much backyard.

Nan, you be surprised what you can "create" with pokies. For example, the misery overwhelming my neighbour recently after she tried to bail herself out of a couple of short term problems with a disastrous visit to the local pub and pokies.
Like George, I've come to embrace that final sanctuary is best gained in a quiet spot in the back yard, clear of "noise".

In Turn off Google and you might learn something in the National Times Peter Hodge says:

If, as writer Nicholas Carr in The Shallows and others argue, excessive use of the internet and other forms of technology diminishes our capacity for deep, meditative thinking, "the brighter the software, the dimmer the user", a counter-revolution may be required.

What is deep, meditative thinking? I tis different from critical thinking and research skills.

Is it our our ability to reflect, reason and imagine?