Doris Lessing doesn’t like those silly bloggers one bit, as interpreted here via commentary from Ars Technica:
Computers and the Internet and the television have wrought a revolution on ways of thinking and spending leisure time, and Lessing doesn’t believe that society as a whole has really thought through the implications of these changes. “And just as we never once stopped to ask, How are we, our minds, going to change with the new internet, which has seduced a whole generation into its inanities so that even quite reasonable people will confess that once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging and blugging etc.” It is now common, she says, for “young men and women who have had years of education, to know nothing about the world, to have read nothing, knowing only some speciality or other, for instance, computers.”
Because, of course, to know about computers is to know nothing of value.
I just read a paper from a college senior who, when writing a paper on a canonically validated text, initially cited more sources from a DVD documentary than from scholarly books and articles, so I, too, lament the decline of literacy. Yet I’m not exactly comfortable with Lessing’s take on the value of a liberal-arts education, or her assessment of the causes of the decay of literacy. Like the printing press, blogging puts the power of literacy in the hands of the populace. If the unwashed masses have the tools in their hands, they’re going to use them to produce texts about what matters to them, not what matters to the ones who were already in power before the tools escaped into the wild.
It is rather amazing that educated people who don’t have time to read a book have the time to make Lego stop-motion animated versions of viral dance videos, but I’d much rather that people create and share their own works — which means the processing of a few diamonds along with a lot of roughage — than limit themselves to silently swallowing what big-business wants them to consume.