Amusing, no?

In another life and time, Postman and I would have had a great deal to discuss. Perhaps we would have done so publicly, in large arenas, complete with cheering audience and five-hour time limit. Alas, destiny precludes it, so I am left to read and digest and respond to no one and everyone all at once. This blog, it is literary - steeped in typography. In its own way, it is also another piece of (mostly irrelevant) information contributing to our culture's information glut. It may even be entertainment.

I suppose, at my core, I am a relativist. My essential quarrel with Postman is not that television has reshaped our public discourse, our sense of truth and knowledge, our definitions of intelligence and information, but that we are in any place to pass a judgment on these changes. Things are not as they were 100-200 years ago. Much has changed, for the better and the worse (e.g. while I bemoan the heaps of irrelevant "news" trumpeted from every corner of the world, I embrace the mind-opening exchange of information and culture). I do not believe that it is possible to get enough perspective from inside today to accurately judge it against yesterday. We need a little distance.

But distance is a luxury that we will never have, for we are here right now, teaching and learning in this quagmire of headlines, tweets, texts, hypertext, moving images, and typography. Sure we can lament the "fall" of print, the "rise" of imagery, the shorter attention spans, the perceived decrease in complexity of thought and lack of exposition, the "reading problems" and learning disorders that Postman argues did not plague the students and educators of yester-century. Or we can work diligently and thoughtfully to provide kids today the best ways and means to process, analyze, reflect on, and thrive in and shape (for the better, the meaningful-er, the serious-er!) our culture.

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