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‘Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable’

This essay by Clay Shirky is, simply, one of the smartest things I’ve ever read:

Revolutions create a curious inversion of perception. In ordinary times, people who do no more than describe the world around them are seen as pragmatists, while those who imagine fabulous alternative futures are viewed as radicals. The last couple of decades haven’t been ordinary, however. Inside the papers, the pragmatists were the ones simply looking out the window and noticing that the real world was increasingly resembling the unthinkable scenario. These people were treated as if they were barking mad. Meanwhile the people spinning visions of popular walled gardens and enthusiastic micropayment adoption, visions unsupported by reality, were regarded not as charlatans but saviors.

And:

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.

The whole piece is a must-read.

Friday, 20 March 2009