Monday, January 18, 2016

Spending some time with Martin Gurri...

So this free copy of  Martin Gurri's The Revolt Of The Public:  And The Crisis Of Authority In The New Millenium showed up on my Kindle.  Free is good.  Not sure how long it will stay there, so it jumped to the top of the stack.  Here are a few early excerpts:

"The moment tomorrow no longer resembles yesterday, we are startled and confused.  The compass cracks, by which we navigate existence.  We are lost at sea."

"I also held the belief that information of the sort found in newspapers and televisions was identical to knowledge - so the more information, the better.  This was naive of me, but if I say so, understandable.  Back when the world and I were young, information was scarce, hence valuable.  Anyone who could cast a beam of light on, say, Russia-Cuba relations, was worth his weight in gold.  In this context, it made sense to crave for more.  A curious thing happens to sources of information under conditions of scarcity.  They become authoritative."

"It took time to break out of my education and training, but eventually the thought dawned on me that information wasn't just raw material to exploit for analysis, but had a life and power of its own.  Information had effects.  And the first significant effect I perceived related to the sources:  as the amount of information available to the public increased, the authoritativeness of any one source decreased."

"Uncertainty is an acid, corrosive to authority.  Once the monopoly on information is lost, so too is our trust.  Every presidential statement, every CIA assessment, every investigative report by a great newspaper, suddenly acquired an arbitrary aspect, and seemed grounded in moral predilection rather than intellectual rigor.  When proof for and against approaches infinity, a cloud of suspicion about cherry-picking data will hang over every authoritative judgment."

"The docile mass audience, so easily persuaded by advertisers and politicians, had been a monopolist's fantasy which disintegrated at first contact with alternatives.  When digital magic transformed information consumers into producers, and established order - grand hierarchies of power and money and learning - went into crisis."

"even the simplest human events constitute complex systems ruled by nonlinearities.  Within such systems, teasing out a single episode and proclaiming it the prime mover makes as much sense as to pick a grain of sand and calling it "the beach."

More to come.

Ed. Note:  My spell check and I both know that there are two "n"s in Millennium.  So does the author.  But for some reason the book's cover opted for the one "n" spelling.

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