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Response to Michiko Kakutani’s “Text without Context” February 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — rcgerhard @ 1:48 am

I read an article this week that yet again bemoans the current system of media consumption. Surprise! Suprise! — Criticism of the internet is at its epicenter. Forgive me if I’m somewhat cynical about the contents of such articles. I’ve been reading them for years and I have yet to find one that is honest and exploratory of the new state of media and not angled toward some end. I would love for instance to say “I read an article that questions/discusses/explores the current system of media consumption”— but I cannot bring myself to do it. It is simply not an accurate expression of what and how the information is conveyed in this article.

What has led me to come to such a harsh conclusion?

(1)The article paraphrases words from books (paragraph 6 for example) without telling why the authors should be considered credible sources. Yes, they have the prestige of getting published and past the “gate-keepers” of the publishing house, but the publishing houses have an economic interest in diminishing the credibility of other media sources like the internet.

(2) Also in paragraph 6, the actual paraphrase points to the internet increasing the ability to multitask and diminishing the “ability to think deeply and creatively” without providing proof for either of these assertions.  Alternate information on multitasking such as —this— is completely omitted…. But then this bit of information is on the internet and is likely water cooler fodder that is more concerned with pandering to emotions than a sense of reason (see paragraph 13). Which leads me to the third problem I have with this article…

(3) It’s not falsifiable. There is nothing I can do, say or type on the web that can prove that the essence of what this article is arguing is wrong. This is because the essence of what the article is arguing (If I’m reading it right) is that what is on the internet is unreliable. If I say on this blog that the accusation is false, any proponent of the article may say “see argument A”.  This of course does not make “argument A” any truer, but it does make it seem more attractive.

(4) The article ignores the fact that it itself is posted on the web.

(5) The article ignores the unreliable and biased nature of older media outlets.


One Response to “Response to Michiko Kakutani’s “Text without Context””

  1. jamiezig Says:

    You really have it in for Michiko, huh? 🙂 Well, I suppose the books she’s reading do have to establish their credibility. The books she discusses have a range of opinions on the web. For instance, she discusses Carr’s book (remember we read his article: Is Google Making Us Stupid?) which isn’t necessarily a critique of the web as much as it’s trying to raise awareness of the ways in which it might be affecting us (and him).

    I think you can critique, Rebecca. The best way to do it is to get your hands on those books, read them, and write about them.

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