Outgoing NYT executive editor Bill Keller has done an interview with Anthony De Rosa at Reuters and naturally the topic of aggregation and Twitter came up.
Last month Keller penned a column for the NYT Magazine in which he questioned the usefulness of social media and included a Tweet he’d sent out that had the hashtag “#twittermakesyoustupid discuss.”
Cue a flurry of outraged posts saying that Keller thinks Twitter makes people stupid (including one from his own tech reporter).
In his interview with Reuters Keller clarifies:
In case you’re wondering, by the way, I do not believe that Twitter literally makes people stupid. If you read the column, you know that I posted a hashtag — #twittermakesyoustupid — followed, please note, by the word “discuss.” The point was to throw out a subject for discussion, and see how the medium dealt with it, which was pretty much the way I expected. (A hashtag is a topic, not an argument. ) I think Twitter can encourage distraction, superficiality, short attention spans, bumper-sticker-level discourse. It can make you SOUND stupid. But, no, I don’t think it makes you stupid.
Hard to argue with that. And while he doesn’t namecheck Arianna below, hard to miss the insinuation.
Ah, aggregation. You apparently missed this. In our newsroom, I’ve been an enthusiastic promoter of aggregation. I think readers come to us not just for our original reporting, but for our judgment. So they want to know not just what we’re reporting, but what we’re reading and watching, and they want us linked to sources that back up our reporting or enlarge on it. My caveats are a) aggregation is not a substitute for original reporting. If you don’t have original reporting, you’re aggregating smoke. And b) a business model built on excerpting or rewriting other people’s work at length in order to keep the traffic and reward for yourself is stealing.
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