[IAEP] Is there a new geek anti-intellectualism?

C. Scott Ananian cscott at laptop.org
Sat Jun 11 19:57:24 EDT 2011

On Sat, Jun 11, 2011 at 7:32 PM, Christoph Derndorfer
<e0425826 at student.tuwien.ac.at> wrote:
> thanks to Twitter I stumbled across a very interesting blog post called
> "Is there a new geek anti-intellectualism?"
> (http://larrysanger.org/2011/06/is-there-a-new-geek-anti-intellectualism/).
> Particularly in combination with the author's replies
> (http://larrysanger.org/2011/06/geek-anti-intellectualism-replies/) to
> many of the comments his original story received after being widely
> spread via Slashdot, Twitter, blogs, etc. this make for fascinating
> weekend read.
> I definitely haven't managed to wrap my head around all of it but as a
> geek-dominated community working on education projects I feel some the
> things being discussed there potentially also apply to our own efforts.

Hm, about six paragraphs in it seems the author is already getting a
number of concepts hopelessly muddled, which doesn't bode well for the
discussion to come.  The internet is making *some* forms of knowledge
obsolete.  It is true that mundane arithmetic ability can often be
substituted with a computer, and memorization of tables is in many
cases unnecessary.  We have largely lost the ability of the ancient
Greeks to memorize histories, preferring to read/write them instead.
I am largely unable to use my phone unaided, because I no longer
memorize phone numbers.  I don't think this is a portent of the fall
of mankind.

I think jumping from "some forms of knowledge aren't as useful" to
"all academia should be overthrown" is a step too far... even if some
sloppy or lazy thinkers may be tempted to jump there.

And then the argument jumps from fact to fiction.  Are "great works of
art" worth experiencing (reading, viewing, listening, seeing)?  Do
they become less great as eras pass?  Ought "Great Expectations" be on
a modern school curriculum?  Or should we substitute Neal Stephenson
for Dickens today?

You can have arguments on these topics, but they are not new
arguments.  To the extent the discussion is informed by technological
advances, it is merely continuing a conversation predating the
printing press.

      ( http://cscott.net )

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