Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why the Internet isn't an intellectual vacuum

Often, academics find themselves in discussions about the media and new technologies and how all these gadgets and gizmos and things like the WWW have a negative impact on our intellectual lives.

I don't agree.

In just the last few days, I read about 18th century whore biographies on Jezebel, after having seen an excellent paper on Con Phillips by Caroline Breashears at the "Limits of the Book" conference in Brisbane (look Con Phillips up - it's worth it), and on Boing Boing, a piece about the Fortsas Hoax of 1840. There's been much more. There is a fair share of awful material online, but there's also a lively intellectual engagement with the past, present and future. The internet is as good as the people who supply it with material - and there's some really good people supplying it.

1 comment:

titanium said...

I definitely agree- the internet is an amazing tool for education.

I am so thankful that we don't have to go to where the hub of knowledge is, like the 1920s when, if you wanted to be involved with the "talkies" you had to go to America or where-ever the latest hub of knowledge was. The hub of knowledge now comes into your own home via the internet. It's nice to know you aren't at a huge disadvantage if you can't travel to see the original manuscripts.

Of course, people are still people, even on the internet. Sometimes people are capable of wonderful acts of generosity and magnanimity, and sometimes people are silly, petty, selfish and dark. It is the nature of humanity. With the internet bringing the capability of anonymity (though this is fading in the age of facebook and myspace) these traits are magnified. Of course the doubters are going to point at the failings and ignore the sparks of brilliance.

I think the internet contributes incredibly to my education, this blog case in point. :)