Cory Leonard

Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

Truthiness in Media

In media on January 21, 2014 at 4:33 am

I’ll tell you why we still need “traditional media” like Reuters, FT, WSJ, WaPo, NYT, and other newbies who aspire to serious journalistic standards. The system that we currently have allowed within the web we all love is misguided.

Luke O’Neill who wrote an article cum bombshell saying as much,  says it best here: “Readers are gullible.  The media is feckless. Garbage is circulated around.  And everyone goes to be happy and fed.”  In other words, the web rewards eyeballs over truth, sensation over meaning, excitement over importance.

And praise be to NPR’s On the Media for another revealing interview:

BOB GARFIELD:  So what you’re describing, Luke, is the quintessential perfect storm. The writers need to post a crazy lot just to make a living. The publications need to generate clicks. That’s where its revenue comes from. You throw in plain journalistic laziness and human nature, an undiscriminating audience that just wants to be titillated or whatever. The convergence of these elements, clearly, if your story is right, overwhelms any commitment to truth.

LUKE O’NEILL:  I think that’s exactly what happens. And as someone who’s written for newspapers for many years, I know that if you make a small mistake in a printed newspaper, like the Boston Globe, where I’ve contributed for a long time, they are not happy about that, even if it’s something that doesn’t matter.

And I think that these big viral sites, they don’t have that sort of standards in place. Like consider the headline style that has become so prevalent this year, like this one cat that will restore your faith in humanity or, you know, these 10 ice cream cones that’ll make you want to believe in God. It’s all based on hyperbole and exaggeration. The entire interaction is starting off on a falsehood.

via The Best Piece of Radio You’ll Hear In Your Life Transcript – On The Media.



Booklist | The Original Partisans: Burke v Paine

In politics on January 12, 2014 at 3:43 am

From arguments over the French Revolution (and other revolts to come) to the divide among conservatives and progressives today, Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine are an interesting pair with historical and current relevance.  And a new book by Yuval Levin titled The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine and the Birth of Right and Left explores this partisan debate by crafting a book based on “a powerful reflection of underlying and influential political philosophies,” according to Jack Rakove in WaPo:

Levin arrays the differences between Burke and Paine as a set of six sharp disagreements over basic political ideas, each of which he examines with some care. This opposition begins with a dispute over the relevant authority of nature and history. Paine’s radically free individual, the modern democratic citizen, derives his rights from a situation that precedes the formation of a society; Burke’s subject is always embedded in a matrix of institutions, customs and affections. To allow mankind to attain the rights that originate in nature, Paine makes justice a supreme value. For Burke, what Americans sometimes call “ordered liberty” remains the proper goal. That difference leads naturally to the recognition that Paine favors a political realm emphasizing continual choice, Burke one that emphasizes the duties that ultimately hold society together.

In his most ambitious chapter, Levin contrasts Paine’s absolute confidence in the working of human reason, the supreme good of the 18th-century Enlightenment, with Burke’s concept of “prescription,” a skeptical preference for settled mechanisms of behavior that requires reform to follow a moderate path, ever conscious of the dangers of unintended consequences. The comparison ends with two predictable topics. Paine favors revolution and the rights of the living generation, Burke opts for careful reform and a sense of generational continuity.

via – The Washington Post – The Original Partisans: Burke v Paine.

Straight TED Talk by Benjamin Bratton

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2014 at 11:14 pm

What’s wrong with TED? “Too much faith in technology,” lacking in economics, viewing design as an end rather than a means, and more:

TED of course stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and Ill talk a bit about all three. I Think TED actually stands for: middlebrow megachurch infotainment.The key rhetorical device for TED talks is a combination of epiphany and personal testimony an “epiphimony” if you like through which the speaker shares a personal journey of insight and realisation, its triumphs and tribulations.

What is it that the TED audience hopes to get from this? A vicarious insight, a fleeting moment of wonder, an inkling that maybe its all going to work out after all? A spiritual buzz?

Im sorry but this fails to meet the challenges that we are supposedly here to confront. These are complicated and difficult and are not given to tidy just-so solutions. They don’t care about anyones experience of optimism. Given the stakes, making our best and brightest waste their time – and the audiences time – dancing like infomercial hosts is too high a price. It is cynical.

Also, it just doesn’t work.

via We need to talk about TED | Benjamin Bratton | Comment is free |

Why so glum about this fantastic enterprise? Isn’t TED a lot of fun? Well, yes, it is–and I readily admit to enjoying many talks as much as the next person.

But if you want to do the hard work (and thinking) that is required for major steps forward–rather than inspirational infotainment– we need to understand more complexity, not less… as Bratton, apparently part of the loyal opposition, says, to “slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions).”

In response, TED founder Chris Anderson makes the case that the forum aims to “help improve the quality of public discourse” in the Guardian. Definitely worth further discussion.