Failing the new electric c00l-ade acid test


6 comments posted
Cut Tom some slack. He is 74

Cut Tom some slack. He is 74 and does not own a computer.

Plus there is no one in mainstream media who understands interactivity either other than we do it in our pajamas. Or in a bathroom with a modem.

Jake's picture
Posted by Jake (not verified) on 5 December 2004 - 9:37pm
You've been peeping in my bathroom???

Oh, you're probably right about Wolfe. And you're certainly right about the mainstream media (though I have to point out the exceptions of Bill Moyers and, perhaps, Keith Olbermann).

I suppose I was going off in high spirits more about information vs. interactivity. It's something that the "older generation" (whatever that might be) doesn't really get. I suppose it's like talking to them about the days of radio ... we just don't understand. We all can assume we understand. We can presume to understand. But it doesn't mean we really do.

I don't think I do. I'm still trying to figure it out. Right now, whenever Bill Gates starts talking about smart television and smart houses, I just scratch my head. Talk about not knowing how I might interact with society 10 years from now -- I cannot imagine how Microsoft would fit in, either (although with their lawyers and money, I'm sure they'll figure a way).

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 5 December 2004 - 10:43pm
With Age, wisdom

If someone does not have a computer, then that individual is hobbled, but it is not a function of age, per se I refer to two posts I made in mediagirl. The first was about "Illiteracy and the Internet" and the second "A View from Partenia," the latter refers to Debora L. Spar and her book, "Ruling the Waves: Cycles of Discovery, Chaos, and Wealth from Buccaneers to Bill Gates."

There is a balance here which Spar brings out in her book. There have been other great inventions - sailing ships that have navigation to go beyond the sight of land, the printing press, the telegraph, the radio, and to some extent television.

Wolf is a pundit and to stay a pundit one must stay current and not argue dotage as a mitigating factor and there are enough of us who hear people almost brag, "I don't know anything about computers" to make us wonder what glory there is in confessing such ignorance; and that has led to a generally held belief that anyone over the age of 14 does not have enough gray matter to operate some rather dumb-ass technology.

The flip side, however, is that anyone under 14 all too often believes (s)he is living at the end of history. Spar, and I think rightly, points out that the printing press, telegraph, and radio had a far greater impact on the world than the Internet has (or will) and many of the same things were predicted would happen. For example, the idea that institutions of higher learning will be obsolete because of radio was widely tauted, at least by some. People would not have to attend classes when they could get the same information over a radio broadcast. A Professor at Tufts quite his teaching post and went on the air to give his learned lectures.

But lectures and information on what foundation?

The issues, to my mind, is literacy beyond the "light of the world" from my flat screen. If people do not have the basic skills, then being connected is an empty exercise.Henry Rosovsky put it well, an educated person ought to have


A. The ability to clearly and effectively think and write.

B. An informed acquaintance with the following:

1. The mathematical and experimental methods of the physical and biological sciences.

2. The main forms of analysis and the historical and quantitative techniques needed for investigating the workings and development of modern society.

3. Some of the important scholarly, literary, and artistic achievements of the past.

4. The major religious and philosophical conceptions of humans.

5. Other cultures and times.

6. A serious encounter with moral and ethical problems.

7. Good manners, high aesthetic and moral standards.

The new interactive media will facilitate this, but it will not substitute for gaining an ability to think critically and independently. Henry Rosovsky calls these the "Goals of a Liberal Education. " I call them the "Goals of a Yankee Eduction."

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 6 December 2004 - 7:34am
Don't worry ...

They won't be able to hold the technology back that way. There will always be a "for dummies" version like AOL for people who don't want to put that much into it, but the Geeks will continue to demand more.

No one ever succeeds stopping progress. Every generation thinks it's doomed, and that every advance will be the end of the world. (Of course, I'd feel a little better if those people in our culture weren't in charge of the bomb...)

Nuclear energy was supposed to make electricity so cheap that it would be a waste to put a meter on it. The Bicycle was supposed to have been sent by the Devil, as was Elvis and the steam engine.

I'm surrounded by people that don't watch TV or own computers. I'm not entirely convinced that having them would make those people any less irritating, but I wish they'd give it a shot.

As for the interactivity, it is a double edged sword. You can filter out too much. The place I live gets several hundreds of channels. I watch everything - new, old, intellectual stuff like Bill Moyers, goofy stuff like Joey, indie films and classic movies, and lots and lots of what passes as news these days. Others who live here see nothing that doesn't include a basketball, a cowboy or a mandolin. Technology can expand your world or it can screen out anything "objectionable" or "different" and keep you in a cozy little bubble circa 1963.

The more advanced we become, the more I am opposed to home schooling. It's going to be hard to maintain a civilization without some common experience. That's what Tom Wolfe should be writing about.

And he should do it on a MAC.

In .pdf form.

and sell it electronically.

Pulp is so last century...

Morgaine-ism© #8

"A Woman's Sexual and Reproductive Autonomy is Sacred and Absolute."

Morgaine Swann's picture
Posted by Morgaine Swann on 14 January 2005 - 5:38am

...except that he should write it on a Linux machine using GNU office software.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 14 January 2005 - 2:54pm
One bad Apple

Hey, Sweetie-

I know you've been in Mac hell lately, but don't let it drive you to the dark side. Linux has a wonderful, populist aire about it, but it can't touch the elegance of the big cats. Get yourself a Mini Mac and an iPod shuffle and bask in the techno-cool.

Morgaine-ism© #8

"A Woman's Sexual and Reproductive Autonomy is Sacred and Absolute."

Morgaine Swann's picture
Posted by Morgaine Swann on 15 January 2005 - 5:18am