New York Times editor Bill Keller is back with another beautifully written column that seems designed to piss off the digital generation.Twitter and Facebook, Keller argues, are ruining us.
By helping us “outsource our brains to the cloud.”
(That’s a pretty cool idea, by the way–outsourcing our brains to the cloud. If Keller weren’t bemoaning it, he could easily start a meme. And maybe even a company!)
Keller does concede that Twitter is “brilliant,” in a way, and he even uses it. But he makes it clear that he preferred life the old way. When people read books. And spoke in paragraphs. And reflected on life and felt empathy and pursued “meaning,” instead of just blurting out tweets.
Now, at a base level, Keller obviously makes an important point: You can’t have innovation without losing something. And if you were fond of the thing that you’re losing–as Keller obviously is–the innovation isn’t going to be all good.
But it’s no surprise–and, in fact, it’s annoyingly predictable–that the editor of the New York Times sees mainly the negatives in the Twitter revolution. Because the New York Times, and the editor of the New York Times, would obviously be better off if everything just stayed the same.
We’re certainly not going to argue with Mr. Keller that Twitter, Facebook, et al are changing the way we interact and think.
But we will take issue with his (tacit) conclusion that this change is a net negative. As Twitter and Facebook have already demonstrated countless times, they are enabling miracles of global communication and information dissemination that would have been impossible only a decade ago. And we would also challenge Keller’s conclusion that Twitter and Facebook make us any less “reflective” or empathetic or able to pursue meaning.
Even confining the discussion to the world of journalism–which, in our opinion, has been drastically improved by the Twitter and blog revolution–we think the world is better off than it was a decade ago. And in that vein, we have some simple questions for Mr. Keller.
Have you seen what the NYT’s younger generation of writers are doing with Twitter? Do you follow Brian Stelter and David Carr and Nick Bilton, et al? Have you noticed the way these folks are using Twitter to augment their traditional journalism–to make it more real-time, to add details that never would have fit in the paper (or gotten past your editors), to spread it to more people, to distribute it to readers, to build direct relationships with those who are paying the New York Times’ bills?
If you don’t follow these folks, Mr. Keller, you should! Because they’ll show you that, despite the speed with which the the world is changing, the Twitter revolution is a net positive. And the future looks good.