Arnold Kling

Dissing the Web

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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A statement that "the right wing has a monopoly on IQ in this country" may be only the second most outrageous comment in this David Gelernter interview with The American Spectator (even though on the Web the interview appears on TechCentralStation). He also says

The browser and the Web site are obsolete; just a chaotic bunch of links stuck together...

The hyperlinks at the heart of the Web are ultimately bad, because breadth instead of depth is a recipe for intellectual disaster. The idea that the instant you get bored with somethin--click and it disappears and you're somewhere else--brings out all the worst overtones in our culture. Our shrinking attention spans, our superficiality, our unwillingness to come to grips with real issues, our insistence on bite-size chunks of everything. Wiring things together with hyperlinks is not an organizational strategy. It's a nonstrategy.

If you want a slightly different opinion, on either politics or the Web, try David Weinberger, at either his Journal of Hyperlinked Organizations or at the web site for his new book, Small Pieces Loosely Joined.

The Web, a world of pure connection, free of the arbitrary constraints of matter, distance and time, is showing us who we are - and is undoing some of our deepest misunderstandings about what it means to be human in the real world.

I agree with Weinberger on this one. If Gelernter wants to explore ideas in depth, then he should stick to books. If he is opposed to glib sound bites, then why does he manufacture them for the interview?

Discussion Question. When you are clicking through sites like this one, do you consider it entertainment, education, both, or neither?

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