Sunday, June 30, 2013

The internet's lost opportunity


By Bill Kraus

At a symposium in California the participants were asked what was the most significant invention in their lifetimes. The vote for the internet was almost unanimous. One deviant suggested “the pill.” I offered “TV” and was immediately labeled an old fogey by an audience that has no recollection of a TV-free existence.

I’m sticking to my answer. The reason goes back to Marshall McLuhan’s famous dictum--the medium is the message--which baffled me when I first heard it. No longer.

The effects of TV on politics and governing and participation in both connects directly to McLuhan. Politics is particularly affected. Before TV, political conventions were a social event and people were the main communication medium. A picture in my office of a group that gathered on a cold October Saturday morning in the middle of the last century says it all. Men, women, kids from all walks of life [from the chairman of the largest company in town down to working stiffs and housewives] were picking up the literature that promoted the candidacies of their favored candidates which they would deliver door to door throughout their city.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Store from Hell


By Bill Kraus

There is more to tending the public store than delivering merchandise. The store itself has to be seen to.

We have all seen the recent legislative products on the political store’s shelves and have decided whether we are buying them or not.

What is increasingly obvious is that the store itself, the system which delivers the product, is falling apart.

The writer George Packer says that the nation’s leaders have “abandoned their posts.”

They are not dealing with the flaws in the political system. They are not tending the store.

I could start with something as basic as the distrust and disdain that 90 percent of those polled say they have for the people who they have elected to public office.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Thinking about thinking


By Bill Kraus

The book is Thinking, Fast and Slow. Those are the only options other than not thinking at all. It was written by a man named Daniel Kahneman who is a Nobel prize winning economist.

It is scholarly. It is informative. It is a bit of a slog, but worth it.

The book describes the two kinds of thinking. The shortcut example how we think when asked, “What is 2 times 2?” and “What is 23 times 17?”

To the first one we respond to quickly and easily. The second not so fast.

These are the ways we respond to all questions. The elaborations on this go on for several hundred pages and make several cogent points.