Quality is taking a back-seat to quantity. The transparent thoughts of Pirsig in this piece call out a nation that is consuming absolutely everything that comes their way. Nothing is ever properly processed before moving on to the next thing. He alludes to this consumption of cultural junk-food as being a responsible for a community concerned with ‘silt.’
Although written over 35 years ago, the ideas generated here are actually more relevant then before especially when used to look at technology and the media.
Going a century into the past I think we can assume there is just as much ‘news’ as there is today. The only way one might consider the 21st century to actually having more ‘news’ would be to take the increase of the population into account. Even so, this would only account for news generated by people. Regardless of that variable, the technology of that time was limited and expensive, allowing the ‘Best News’ to float to the top and be distributed for consumption. The information that MOST affected people or affected the MOST people was what was chosen to lead the day. As technology become more affordable and better developer it became much easier to cover material that affected smaller communities. Local papers came into existence, special interests as well. It becomes easier to publish more information quicker.
This shift of information mass comes at the expense of the ‘best.’ In the 21st century. This flood of knowledge has come to a point where the content is no longer as important and the amount of content. More now and more faster tends is a trend that pulls at the heartstrings of the consumer culture that we live in today. When a person has the technology to receive news 24 hours a day, or a television station needs to fill a 24 hour broadcast block, then people expect ‘new-news’ 24 hours a day. The content doesn’t matter nearly as much as medium and the medium needs whatever content it can get, nd now it needs to get it faster then the competition.
A million different sources does not help ‘what is best.’ With the development of websites, branded news stations, and specialized internet radio, an individual may now decide not only ‘what is best for me’ but simply ‘what do I want.’ Choose your news! Individualism and a nation full of kings, does very little to promote a healthy attitude for ‘what is best’ and completely circumvents the journalist’s responsibility to provide relevant and unbiased information.
So with the flood of information comes the stagnant pools of irrelevant disinformation. This washing of the news allows the valuable things to be swept away never getting the proper attention in the ocean of info, if they get any attention at all. Technology has simply been a tool that has allowed this to happen. A great asset when not misused, tragic when abused.