Facebook is Not Bringing on the End of Civilization as We Know It

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Dear Bob ...

I have the phrase "Those who WILL NOT read have NO Advantage over those who CAN NOT read" posted over my desk. I firmly believe that the crucial turning point from thousands of years of horse and buggy to a world of jet airplanes was the movable-type printing press invented by Gutenberg. It allowed for knowledge and ideas to be recorded, shared, and expanded upon. Clear and substantial communication was necessary for moving us forward technologically.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Is Mark Zuckerberg the cause of or solution to all of Facebook's problems? Robert X. Cringely wonders if it's time to de-friend him. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. | Keep up on career advice with Bob Lewis' Advice Line newsletter. ]

I have been struck by some portrayals of the future, where civilization has reverted back to early, nontechnological status, and with it a simplified, corrupted language by the people (and generally no ability to read books). I believe books can expand thinking, and the lack of reading shrinks knowledge and thinking.

Apparently I'm not the only one. Neal Gabler wrote a commentary titled "The Zuckerberg Revolution" wherein he explains how, if the founder of Facebook were to have his view of communication become "the norm," then real communication will decrease, along with knowledge and thinking.

Do you think that this "communication 2.0" (via Facebook, Twitter, Instant Messenger, and so on) will lead to a better or deteriorated society?

Here are some quotes I found particularly meaningful:

  • "Gutenberg's Revolution transformed the world by broadening it, by proliferating ideas."
  • "[Neil] Postman ... believed that a reading society was also a thinking society. No real reading, no real thought."
  • "Postman felt that print culture helped create thought that was rational, ordered and engaging, and he blamed TV for making us mindless."
  • "Zuckerberg introduced seven principles that he said were the basis of communication 2.0. Messages have to be seamless, informal, immediate, personal, simple, minimal and short."
  • "That makes Zuckerberg the anti-Gutenberg...[creating a world] in which complexity is all but impossible and meaninglessness reigns supreme."
  • "Zuckerberg's Revolution has a corollary that one might call Zuckerberg's Law: Empty communications drive out significant ones."
  • "Gutenberg's Revolution left us with a world that was intellectually rich. Zuckerberg's portends one that is all thumbs and no brains."

- Concerned citizen

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