Thursday, May 17, 2007

the destruction of american democracy

Say what you will about Al Gore, he strikes me as one of the most statesmanlike, intelligent and educated of our public figures these days. In a Time Magazine excerpt from his new book, he discusses what is happening to our democracy and the transition of the "well-informed citizenry" into the "well-amused audience."

Radio, the Internet, movies, cell phones, iPods, computers, instant messaging, video games and personal digital assistants all now vie for our attention—but it is television that still dominates the flow of information. According to an authoritative global study, Americans now watch television an average of 4 hours and 35 minutes every day—90 minutes more than the world average. When you assume eight hours of work a day, six to eight hours of sleep and a couple of hours to bathe, dress, eat and commute, that is almost three-quarters of all the discretionary time the average American has.

In the world of television, the massive flows of information are largely in only one direction, which makes it virtually impossible for individuals to take part in what passes for a national conversation. Individuals receive, but they cannot send. They hear, but they do not speak. The "well-informed citizenry" is in danger of becoming the "well-amused audience."

And then, offering a little hope:

The democratization of knowledge by the print medium brought the Enlightenment. Now, broadband interconnection is supporting decentralized processes that reinvigorate democracy. We can see it happening before our eyes: As a society, we are getting smarter. Networked democracy is taking hold. You can feel it. We the people—as Lincoln put it, "even we here"—are collectively still the key to the survival of America's democracy.


Anonymous tater said...

Run, Al! Please run! Your country needs you.

May 17, 2007 9:59 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I was more excited about Al Gore than I was about Clinton when they were elected together back in '92. What a different country we'd be right now if the Supreme Court had not appointed Dubya president in 2000. Just imagine.

May 17, 2007 10:55 AM  
Blogger Red7Eric said...

Al Gore is smokin' hot, for all the right reasons.

May 17, 2007 12:15 PM  

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