Nicholas Carr of roughtype.com — the guy who wrote a critical and much-cited post earlier this year about the amorality of Web 2.0 — is up to his old skeptical tricks again in a recent post entitled “Jellybeans for breakfast.”
In it, he writes about how blogosphere proponents like to think of what they are doing as a deep, Socratic dialogue on issues — but Nick says that “experiencing the blogosphere feels a lot like intellectual hydroplaning – skimming along the surface of many ideas, rarely going deep. It’s impressionistic, not contemplative. Fun? Sure. Invigorating? Absolutely. Socratic? I’m not convinced. Preferable to the old world? It’s nice to think so.”
He goes on to say that “for all the self-important talk about social networks, couldn’t a case be made that the blogosphere, and the internet in general, is basically an anti-social place, a fantasy of community crowded with isolated egos pretending to connect? Sometimes, it seems like we’re all climbing up into our own little treehouses and eating jellybeans for breakfast.” Agree or disagree? I can see Nick’s point — and it’s true that blogging can sometimes deteriorate into a clubby exercise in mutual back-patting, about issues of interest to small group of geeks.
I would have to agree with some of the comments on his post, however (including one from Seth Finkelstein), which argue that many readers of the MSM (mainstream media) have just as shallow a relationship with what they are reading. At least blogs encourage discussion. It’s up to us to ensure that the discussion is worthwhile.