Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Praise for pop culture: Could this include the blogosphere?

I've just gotten around to reading an excerpt from the latest fascinating book by my current favorite nonfiction author, Steven Johnson, entitled Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter. I'll leave you to read the excerpt (the title gives enough away for my purpose).

What I'm wondering is whether Johnson's premise can be applied to the current news environment in general and the blogosphere in particular. When Walter Cronkite told us that was the way it was, we believed him straight away. But even if we didn't, we didn't have too many other sources to examine for alternative explanations (I'm exaggerating a bit, but compared to today my statement might as well be true.) Now, each news consumer has no choice but to evaluate the tidbits of information they collect from a wide variety of sources. Is it possible that there's a good side to the current crisis in journalism?

In any case, I'm heading out to buy Johnson's new book today.