John McCann

Global intellectual economy

In Globalization, Media involvement, ParticipationWeb on December 22, 2006 at 11:25 pm

2006 is ending with Time magazine naming its person of the year to be those who participate in the global intellectual economy. After describing how millions of people use blogs, podcasts, and videos to describe their lives, document events and express opinions, author Lev Grossman concludes that we have joined an economy that was previously reserved for those with access to the various printing presses and radio & TV stations.

“We’re looking at an explosion of productivity and innovation, and it’s just getting started, as millions of minds that would otherwise have drowned in obscurity get backhauled into the global intellectual economy.”

As a university professor who writes books & articles and makes speeches all over the world, I have long been a participant in this global intellectual economy. I now welcome and celebrate the millions who have joined me. However, I find that my reaction may not be the norm as I read pieces in the traditional media that pan the contributions of the amateurs and promote the material produced by themselves.

Just this morning I read a column by George Will in which he says that magazines such as Time have “what 99.9 percent of the Web’s content lacks: seriousness.” This guy is threatened by you, and he has reacted by belittling your contributions. He says that all it takes is a glance at YouTube’s most popular videos to see that you are not in the same league as the traditional media.

I imagine that such glances are all the research that he did for his column. He clearly read the Time article and accompanying editorial because his column is peppered with quotes from the magazine. But he simply could not have spent much time researching the blogosphere. If he had, he would have found thousands, if not millions, of blogs that are as serious as his columns. As a columnist, he writes his opinions about topics of his choice. That is exactly what millions of bloggers do on a daily basis. But he clearly believes that his opinions are more serious than 99.9% of yours. Such a belief can only come from being isolated from the very topic he is writing about. His column is not informed by reality; only by a glance.

My response to George Will: are you kidding me? Get serious, man.

  1. A growing number of political leaders are very aware of the importance of bloggers. For instance, NC State Senator Fred Smith believes that bloggers — even more than people such as George Will — are citizen journalists who are at least honest about their biases and partisanship.

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