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Posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 08:45 am:   

Have the Internet's increasing crowd noise and the ease of publishing books via new printing techniques and the surrogate 'fame' of Reality TV etc. enabled the modern Tower of Babel to have built itself, despite all the good intentions to prevent it?

If nobody replies to this, that's probably the reason!
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Posted on Monday, June 20, 2005 - 06:54 am:   

My extension of above (based on UK experience):

The internet, TV Reality shows, road rage, too easy multimedia so that everyone can publish without 'editorial' control, too many people saying 'whatever', mobile phones with voyeuristic videos, constant communication, teachers not being allowed to punish, parents often abandoning their responsibility, less and less substantial durable art/literature/music being enjoyed by most people, no shock of the new because everything is shocking...

A reply from a member of the public discussion forum called 'Weirdmonger' on Yahoogroups which has been going for nearly 6 years:

All these things run the risk of being lumped into the 'Grumpy Old Man' category, but there are serious issues here. The Dutch have a very appropriate word for what I feel is going on here - 'Ontkenning'. It's equivalent in English is close to 'denial', but there's an added atmosphere which gives it a different twist, a value which gives the person who is accused of it genuine pause for thought. Road rage is a graphic example. Drivers react to other vehicles, not so much to their drivers. People who bump into each other in the street more often than not just say 'sorry', smile apologetically to show they are not hostile, and the whole thing is forgotten in an instant. In a car, you can't see who is driving, can't interpret facial expression or exchange a joke by which to shrug off any minor incident. This phenomenon is well documented and understood, but don't you think almost all the other things mentioned have similar origins? We can hide behind anonymity on the net, and pretend to be anyone we like in chatrooms. E-mail and mobile phone technology has speeded up communication to the point at which we rarely ever see some of the people we communicate the most with - some of them we may never have met at all! Web, desktop publishing, all are incredibly easy, and the standards and quality are as varied as programmes on US digital networks as a result. There's no real control because in effect everyone is his/her own editor, and we all know what such a lack of objective checks and balances can lead to. Political correctness and teacher/pupil interraction all engage this sphere of 'ontkenning' - whatever the situation, there should be no way in which the teacher can possibly be accused of either violence against children, or Michael Jackson style intimacy, even if that child is desperate for a shoulder on which to cry, or is attacking the teacher with a waffle iron. As for the 'shock of the new', no, we've seen it all before, so nothing is really shocking any more. Artists clamouring for fame and fortune will more often than not produce transient ephemera. Don't get me wrong - I like conceptual art, if it's good. My feeling is however that returning to a sense of one-to-one communication, artist to audience - with unpretentious, honest and expressive work which has substance, craftsmanship and quality, is worth any amount of unmade beds.

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