Can We Please Take a Break from Blaming the Internet?

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In an op-ed in the Guardian on Sunday, writer and editor Robert Levine makes the case that the internet “has all but destroyed the market for films, music and newspapers.” It’s a question we’ve encountered many times before. Here’s the crux of the argument, which states that the internet has diminished the value of traditional content creation, and thus culture overall:

Over the past decade, much of the value created by music, films, and newspapers has benefited other companies – pirates and respected technology firms alike. The Pirate Bay website made money by illegally offering major-label albums, even as music sales declined to less than half of what they were 10 years ago. YouTube used clips from shows such as NBC’s Saturday Night Live to build a business that Google bought for $1.65bn. And the Huffington Post became one of the most popular news sites online largely by rewriting newspaper articles.

As you can imagine, there’s some lively discussion occurring in the post’s comments.

(MORE: NYPD to Scour Facebook and Twitter For Evidence of Crimes)

Meanwhile, in an article from Friday’s online edition of the New York Times by Neal Gabler tackles the internet from a slightly different angle, offering that social media has displaced “thinking” with a thought economy predicated on a currency of “knowing.” Here, the internet’s supposedly to blame for making us less able to think on a deeper, more humanist level.

Here’s a key bit:

“[S]ocial networking sites are the primary form of communication among young people, and they are supplanting print, which is where ideas have typically gestated. For another, social networking sites engender habits of mind that are inimical to the kind of deliberate discourses that gives to rise to ideas. Instead of theories, hypotheses and grand arguments, we get instant 140-character tweets about eating a sandwich or watching a TV show.”

Both are interesting pieces worth reading in their entireties, but they’re both arguments we’ve heard before. For some, they may even be a bit difficult to properly digest, especially when you consider the medium by which eyes are likely to find and read them.

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