Despite some not-so-obvious arguments ("Media that's targeted at you but doesn't include you may not be worth sitting still for"), the transcript for a recent Clay Shirky speech reveals some highly intriguing thoughts. The basic gist is that society's collective crises of togetherness give way to more productive management of such crises. We learn how to cope with rising complexity, in short.
Shirky argues that gin was society's early response to the Industrial Revolution ("I can't deal with this, I'd better drink"), and that modern society's response to modernization (More people entering the workforce, etc.) is the sitcom ("I can't deal with this, I'd better watch TV"). I don't know that he's pinpointed the correct "outlet" on our frustrations, but it makes sense that it would take time for societies to effectively channel abundance.
Chris Anderson comments on Shirky's speech, suggesting that "it takes a generation or two to figure out how to properly use some resource that used to be scarce but is now abundant. In this case that resource is time...." Anderson believes we've found our way beyond the TV to "fill [our time] more productively, and to greater satisfaction."
I'm not so sure. In fact, I think the opposite is happening, at least in my life. I've already commented once on my addiction to the web. Unfortunately, my kids are learning the same addictions from me and from my wife.… Read more