Old v New, Long v Short

Earlier this week, I was at a conference where Ted Koppel gave the keynote address on the final day of the meeting.  His basic theme was that we’ve been living in an “age of entitlement”, not just recently but probably dating back 20 years or so.  The audience was career college administrators and teachers and he scored points with citing examples of students “entitlement” behavior but also talked more broadly about how this entitlement mentality has helped put us in this global economic recession.

He also bashed Twitter, specifically related to the disputed election results in Iran.  I’ve come to like Twitter in many ways, but like all forms of communication and media it has its limitations.  I’m not informed enough about the current Iranian situation to comment on it, so I won’t.  That was ultimately the gist of his Twitter rant, although I also think part of it was his admitted low tech approach to the news.  Personally, I think you need to get under the hood and understand current technologies before you throw stones at them, just as the digital natives shouldn’t reject all “old” methodologies as inherently flawed.

The latter was a big part of his point about serious, credible journalism versus the over saturation of fluff (my words, not his) that comes at us via the mainstream media.  He admitted to preferring paper and NPR over the Internet and cable TV.  I prefer my Kindle, iPhone, and laptop for information but I still want substance and depth of analysis.  Reflecting on it later, I think a real challenge moving forward is not so much new (media, methods, business models, etc.) trumping old but whether long-term (visionary, ideal-driven) thinking can push aside the pressures and demands of short-term (what’s in it for me now?) thinking.  To me, the latter is part of where we’ve ended up in terms of Koppel’s “age of entitlement” analogy.  We do want more for less, but we also want it now!  Yes, results matter, but so does thoughtful, reasonable dialog and discourse as opposed to the “you suck” v. “no, you suck more” mentality that drives so much of the public debate these days.

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