• Social Media & Internet •
January 20, 2006
Jack Kenny, the creator of NBC’s, The Book of Daniel, is desperately trying to save his show from an almost certain cancellation. He accused conservative Christians of being “bullies” and blamed the show’s weak ratings on evangelicals. He didn’t say anything about the millions of Americans who are offended by the show’s misuse of Jesus Christ as a character, and who find the story of a pill-dropping Episcopal priest and his family — a family that manages to get itself involved in almost every known form of sin in an hour-long television program.
January 15, 2006
January 13, 2006
January 8, 2006
January 5, 2006
David Gelernter is no Luddite. Indeed, he is a professor of computer science at Yale University. According to his biographical statement at Yale’s Web site, his current interests include “information management, parallel programming, software ensembles and artificial intelligence.” This man is not resistant to technology.
January 3, 2006
Joseph Epstein, one of my favorite literary essayists, offers a fascinating look at the decline of daily newspapers in “Are Newspapers Doomed?,” published in the current issue of Commentary. A sampling:
Much cogitation has been devoted to the question of young people’s lack of interest in traditional news. According to one theory, which is by now an entrenched cliché, the young, having grown up with television and computers as their constant companions, are “visual-minded,” and hence averse to print. Another theory holds that young people do not feel themselves implicated in the larger world; for them, news of that world isn’t where the action is. A more flattering corollary of this is that grown-up journalism strikes the young as hopelessly out of date. All that solemn good-guy/bad-guy reporting, the taking seriously of opéra-bouffe characters like Jesse Jackson or Al Gore or Tom DeLay, the false complexity of “in-depth” television reporting à la 60 Minutes–this, for them, is so much hot air. They prefer to watch Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show on the Comedy Central cable channel, where traditional news is mocked and pilloried as obvious nonsense.
Whatever the validity of this theorizing, it is also beside the point. For as the grim statistics confirm, the young are hardly alone in turning away from newspapers. Nor are they alone responsible for the dizzying growth of the so-called blogosphere, said to be increasing by 70,000 sites a day (according to the search portal technorati.com). In the first half of this year alone, the number of new blogs grew from 7.8 to 14.2 million. And if the numbers are dizzying, the sheer amount of information floating around is enough to give a person a serious case of Newsheimers.
He rightly laments the fact that many newspapers, faced with a severe decline in circulation and facing temptation form tabloid TV news, just reduce themselves to tabloid journalism. The news is dumbed down and the most sensational stories get the headlines. Here is Epstein’s conclusion:
Nevertheless, if I had to prophesy, my guess would be that newspapers will hobble along, getting ever more desperate and ever more vulgar. More of them will attempt the complicated mental acrobatic of further dumbing down while straining to keep up, relentlessly exerting themselves to sustain the mighty cataract of inessential information that threatens to drown us all. Those of us who grew up with newspapers will continue to read them, with ever less trust and interest, while younger readers, soon enough grown into middle age, will ignore them.
My own preference would be for a few serious newspapers to take the high road: to smarten up instead of dumbing down, to honor the principles of integrity and impartiality in their coverage, and to become institutions that even those who disagreed with them would have to respect for the reasoned cogency of their editorial positions. I imagine such papers directed by editors who could choose for me–as neither the Internet nor I on my own can do–the serious issues, questions, and problems of the day and, with the aid of intelligence born of concern, give each the emphasis it deserves.
In all likelihood a newspaper taking this route would go under; but at least it would do so in a cloud of glory, guns blazing. And at least its loss would be a genuine subtraction. About our newspapers as they now stand, little more can be said in their favor than that they do not require batteries to operate, you can swat flies with them, and they can still be used to wrap fish.
December 22, 2005
The New York Times has broken a story that demands immediate attention. In “Through His Webcam, A Boy Joins a Sordid Online World” by reporter Kurt Eichenwald, the paper points to an alarming and relatively new phenomenon — teenagers acting out in their own porn products that are sold to sexual predators.
December 8, 2005
Just last week, I released a major commentary on the dangers of teenage blogging. In “Courting Dangers Online–Teenagers and the Internet,” I reported on the fact that many teens and young adults are putting themselves at risk by revealing intimate details of their lives online — mostly through these new personal blogs.
December 1, 2005
As Janet Kornblum of USA Today remarks, America’s teenagers are growing up “with a mouse in one hand and a remote control in the other.” The generation Microsoft founder Bill Gates calls “Generation E” has never known a time when information was not instantly accessible on the internet, or when communication was not available at warp speed through instant-messaging, e-mail, and Internet websites. All this leads to new opportunities, and to new dangers.
October 5, 2005
Lowell Monke offers important insights in his new article published in the current edition of Orion. In “Charlotte’s Webpage: Why Children Shouldn’t Have the World at Their Fingertips,” Monke warns that children who spend a great deal of time on the computer are missing vital life lessons.
September 21, 2005
The rise of young Christian bloggers –many in their teens — is a welcome development in the blogosphere.
My guest on Tuesday’s edition of The Albert Mohler Program was Agent Tim. Tim Sweetman is fifteen years old, and he writes a very fine blog, addressing issues of apologetics and Christian concern with great insight.
I asked Tim to recommend some other young Christian bloggers. You will want to check out Mission 3:6Teen, The Blogging Boy Scout, Spunky Jr., Rebelution, SmartHomeSchool, Virtue Magazine.
Agent Tim adds: The Account.