Eleven Years Ago, This Was Insight. It Still Is.

Every weekday, I try to write something relevant to advertising, branding, or simply modern life.  But today, I’m going to highlight someone else’s writing. Which is a nice way to say “I’m copying.”

I’m copying off one of the web’s original bloggers, Jason Kottke, who has written online since 1998 and currently handles the endlessly fascinating kottke.org. Simultaneously, I’m copying off of Douglas Adams, the English author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and a totally fascinating creative artist who died nine years ago this past week.

Dennis Ryan Chicago Advertising Element 79This piece posted on kottke.org, quotes Adams from a 1999 interview entitled “How To Stop Worrying And Learn To Love the Internet.”  That’s before widespread broadband or WiFi or even Web 2.0.  Read this and understand the difference between commentary and insight: nearly a decade later, Adam’s vision remains accurate despite the quantum leaps in communication and technology and social networking…

“So people complain that there’s a lot of rubbish online, or that it’s dominated by Americans, or that you can’t necessarily trust what you read on the web. Imagine trying to apply any of those criticisms to what you hear on the telephone. Of course you can’t ‘trust’ what people tell you on the web anymore than you can ‘trust’ what people tell you on megaphones, postcards or in restaurants. Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do. For some batty reason we turn off this natural scepticism when we see things in any medium which require a lot of work or resources to work in, or in which we can’t easily answer back — like newspapers, television or granite. Hence ‘carved in stone.’ What should concern us is not that we can’t take what we read on the internet on trust — of course you can’t, it’s just people talking — but that we ever got into the dangerous habit of believing what we read in the newspapers or saw on the TV — a mistake that no one who has met an actual journalist would ever make. One of the most important things you learn from the internet is that there is no ‘them’ out there. It’s just an awful lot of ‘us’.”

Rational skepticism can be a beautiful thing, can’t it?
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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79
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