>>> On 9/22/2006 at 3:04 pm, [log in to unmask] wrote:
> To be sure, that's why I didn't suggest Amusing Ourselves to Death.
> Postman was a luddite wannabe. He sees the technology, but doesn't
> see the the technology is a product of the society, rather than the
> producer of it.
I'm not going to let that one go. Postman was hardly a "wannabe"
and he knew all too well that technology was a product of society. His
quarrel wasn't with technology; it was with the way he saw technology
being employed. He saw it being used to create an alternative to
intelligent conversation, devolving into the kind of crap that
substitutes for public discourse today.
You'll remember, of course, back in the 70's, Postman and his
co-author Weingartner wanting to equip students with Hemingway's
"built-in, shockproof, crap detector." Well, it didn't work.
Instead of "crap detectors" they got PowerPoint (basically, a crap
generator). In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Postman was prescient in
foreseeing the trouble society would be in when students were considered
educated because they had looked at a bunch of movies and made collages
from pictures in Newsweek.
The horrible disaster that has afflicted this country for the last six
years, i.e., the Bush administration, couldn't have happened without
television delivering votes based on images that had nothing to do with
reality. Sixty million or so people voted for Bush in the last
election; at least 55 million of them were voting against their own
self-interest. Why? Because they didn't read; they just looked.
People said things like "Bush looked like a regular guy; Kerry looked
like a snob." Images and sound bites carried the day. Postman wasn't
the first to understand the power of images to deliver a message sans
intellectual content. Marshall McLuhan saw it all back in the '60's:
"the medium is the message."
Today, the media, but not the print media, control our political
process. It's phenomenally expensive to mount a political campaign
because of what it costs to create and broadcast the images that will
sway voters. Consequently, big money carries the day, and the
corporations have the big money, so they win. Someone with a real
message to deliver won't be heard unless the rich and powerful approve
and provide that person the means to produce and present a
sound-and-light show that will wake people up from their naps on the
Luddite, schmuddite! Postman knew what he was talking about. He knew,
for instance, that in a power struggle between traditional schooling and
television, television will win every time. The question is no longer
winning; it's fighting a rear-guard action to prevent us from losing
altogether the power to think logically and lucidly.
Information Technology Director
Montpelier Public Schools
Montpelier, VT 05602