Wired magazine has recently published an article entitled, “Rate This Article: What’s Wrong with the Culture of Critique,” which discusses some interestingly subtle side-effects of the digital age of information.
Author Chris Colin argues that the overwhelming amount of information we are now inculcated with, thanks to the internet, has its pros and cons. While anyone on the planet now has the ability to access all sorts of knowledge from their cell phone, much of that knowledge is user-generated content. Colin writes:
Technoculture critic and former Wired contributor Erik Davis is concerned…too. “Our culture is afflicted with knowingness,” he says. “We exalt in being able to know as much as possible. And that’s great on many levels. But we’re forgetting the pleasures of not knowing. I’m no Luddite, but we’ve started replacing actual experience with someone else’s already digested knowledge.”
The constant influx of user-reviews and ratings can act to contaminate our own opinions, and sway us towards or away from restaurants, taxi services and even news articles. With charts and tickers winking at internet users from every webpage, it can become difficult to discern what you agree with and what you disagree with, what is fact versus one person’s perspective.
The concept of consumer feedback isn’t a new one. The question, “how are we doing?” has been printed on the side of McDonald’s take-out bags for years, and commercial trucks still bear the bumper stickers which read, “how am I driving?” But the internet takes consumer response to an entirely new level, compiling feedback from hundreds if not thousands of users.
Colin argues, “Our ever more sophisticated arsenal of stars and thumbs will eventually serve to curtail serendipity, adventure, and idiotic floundering…there’s an essential freedom in being alone with one’s thoughts, oblivious to and unpolluted by anyone else’s.”
What are your thoughts on what’s happening to our news?