The Internet Hasn’t Led Us Into a New Dark Age.

This morning I read Francine Hardaway’s Blog post – Is Obama the Open Source Solution?

Last night I read this gem from Wired

When in doubt, blame the latest technology. Socrates thought the advent of writing would wreak havoc on the powers of the mind. Christian theologians denounced the printing press as the work of the devil. The invention of the telephone was supposed to make letter-writing extinct, and the arrival of the train — and later the car and plane — was going to be the death of community.

Now comes a technological bogeyman for the 21st century, this one responsible for a supposed sharp uptick in American shallowness and credulity: the Internet and its digital spawn. Witness the wave of books and essays implicating the wired world in a sudden rise in uncritical thinking and attention deficits. In a recent Atlantic Monthly cover story, Nicholas Carr asks: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (A: No, but it makes a handy scapegoat for an inability to cope with information overload.) Lee Siegel’s Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob suggests that the Web makes us both moronic and narcissistic (not that a moron can be expected to know what a narcissist is). Maggie Jackson’s Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age is a tiresome indictment of multitasking. And in The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30), Mark Bauerlein delivers a grim assessment of the state of young minds, rattling off statistics about faltering education and using such figures to buttress his assertion that the Internet, videogames, and IMs all serve to numb and dumb.

[From The Critics Need a Reboot. The Internet Hasn’t Led Us Into a New Dark Age.]

All of this has me thinking about balance.

It seems there is always a struggle between those who want things as they are/were and those who want to create something different. This applies to politics (read David McCullough’s wonderful book John Adams) and to technology.

What we are really talking about is change – the dynamics of change and resistance to change.

And it seems to me that – whichever side of the line you fall on any particular issue – if you take a (giant) step back for just a moment it becomes very obvious that the dynamics of change produce a balance that is healthy for society. The danger isn’t too much balance between change and resistance to change… it is the lack of balance.

What makes all of this challenging of course is that for you either the risk of change or the necessity of change is paramount and obvious – and because of that you want the change abandoned or implemented as soon as possible.

Why am I writing about this… well it occurs to me that as the founder of a startup and innovator that everything I’ve said here is the innovators dilemma.

As an innovator the value of your innovation is readily apparent. It must be adopted by everyone today!! The problem, however, is that the vast majority of people are change resistant – not because they are ignorant, not because they are evil, but because they do not see the value proposition. Your task is to make the cost of change less than the perceived benefit of your innovation.

Ready for the hard part? That is going to be hard, take far more time than you thought, and may never happen.

So, get to it… or give up… do something… do anything… just don’t do nothing.

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