Posts Tagged ‘Clay Shirky’

Top global thinkers read Ian Morris’s Why the West Rules — For Now … and an odd blunder

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Archaeologist Morris digs for the secrets of the ages

Foreign Policy has published its Second Annual Top 100 Global Thinkers List — “a unique portrait of 2010’s global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them” — and there are inevitably some surprises.

The one that pleased us most is that nestled in Niall Ferguson‘s recommended reading list of three books (Ferguson comes in at #80) —  Ian Morris‘s Why the West Rules — For Now.  We’ve written about Morris, the man who knows everything, here and here.

Other names mentioned in these pages appear on the list — Christopher Hitchens, Liu Xiaobo, Mario Vargas Llosa, Clay Shirky, David GrossmanAyaan Hirsi Ali made the cut, and so, ironically, did the man who has derided her — Ian Buruma finishes the list at #100.  (Tariq Ramadan follows immediately after at #62).  But what’s curious about her blurb is this bizarre understatement:

“The first time you heard about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, it was likely the story of a brave Muslim woman fleeing her forced marriage in Somalia to become an outspoken critic of Islam. But her flight didn’t stop there; after more than a decade living in the Netherlands, she left Europe and its painful debates over assimilation for more comfortable ground: conservative America.”

Well, no.  Not quite.  They neglect to mention that she fled Holland because a fatwa called for her death, her colleague Theo van Gogh was murdered, and the Netherlands not only failed to protect her, but turned on her, questioning her immigration status. Big difference.

Why did no one at Foreign Policy flag this boo boo?  I guess all the copy editors have been laid off.

Clay Shirky: “I don’t think the numbers add up”

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Clay Shirky speaking

Never heard of him?  Clay Shirky is the name du jour in  internet networking and social media.  He has bad news for those addicted to print newspapers — you know, the kind you can hold in your hand that leave ink on your fingers: it’s days are numbered.  If you are 25 or younger, you’re probably already reading all the news on a computer screen already. “And to put it in one bleak sentence, no medium has ever survived the indifference of 25-year-olds.”  Paywalls, he says, won’t work — “I don’t think the numbers add up” — and so far he’s had an uncanny tendency to be right.

Shirky is nevertheless illuminating, cheering —  a downright optimist.  The article in The Guardian (it’s here) continues:

“The final thing I’d say about optimism is this. If we took the loopiest, most moonbeam-addled Californian utopian internet bullshit, and held it up against the most cynical, realpolitik-inflected scepticism, the Californian bullshit would still be a better predictor of the future. Which is to say that, if in 1994 you’d wanted to understand what our lives would be like right now, you’d still be better off reading a single copy of Wired magazine published in that year than all of the sceptical literature published ever since.”

Prince: The internet is so yesterday

For an opposing opinion, go no farther than Prince.  For what it’s worth (and it’s not worth much), Prince disagrees  in a different British newspaper today:

“The Internet’s completely over,” he said. “I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it, and then they get angry when they can’t get it.

The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good.

They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”

UPDATE: One vote for Prince! It comes from Forbes magazine:

… he has the Internet completely figured out. In the digital world, where music is free and we’re inundated with easily-duplicated information, what is scarce? Human contact. Things that vanish in time. Things that are handcrafted, or have to be sought out. Things that identify your personal connection to a passion.  … From Prince’s point of view, there’s something to be said for making yourself scarce.