John Naughton fired so many broadsides at a teaching conference here on Monday that it’s taken me some time to get round to thinking about them all.
- He called technology determinism ‘simply wrong’. ‘Focusing entirely on technology is the wrong way to go about this stuff… The future will be determined by how people and institutions shape these technologies.’
- He attacked the fashion for ‘endism’ (eg ‘blogging marks the end of journalism’).
- He provocatively called for the use of PowerPoint to be a dismissible offence (this to an audience of lecturers, remember).
- He talked about how broadcast TV is losing its dominant place in the media ecosystem. ‘Broadcast TV is a push medium used by passive consumers.’
- User-generated content is reversing the decline in the public sphere; ‘it’s a new organism in the media ecosystem’.
- A defining challenge now is how to frame intellectual property rights to suit the digital economy. This is particularly apparent to those of us teaching ‘digital natives’ who simply see no end to their freedom to cut, paste and download (and so plagiarise). Naughton pointed to the work he and others did for the RSA to draft the Adelphi Charter on creativity, innovation and intellectual property.
I liked his sceptical tone, for example about the uses of Second Life. And I shared his confession about missing the boat with text messaging. As a mobile early adopter and a long-time user of email, he said he thought texts were ‘brain-dead emails’. Then teenagers gained mobiles and you know the rest.