Monday, August 1, 2011

Killing the First R

As is frequently my custom, let me note two seemingly very different things and tie them together.

Item 1: Nick Peters recently brought to my attention a news item indicating that one state was saving money by cutting student testing in a specific area -- that of writing.

Item 2: I've noted an increase of late in advertising for the "Dragon Naturally Speaking" software, which allows users to simply speak and cause words to appear on their screen.

Tie them together? Will do.

I've noted as well, regarding that last, that the "writing style" of the documents produced by those modeling the software is, well....awful. It's disjointed, lacking wholly in polish, and thoroughly uninteresting.

In the Biblical world, writing and speaking were both considered objects of art, subject to the same basic principles. To this day some still view both as an art in their own right, though they are not interlinked. However, in the Biblical world as well. such artful speaking and writing was the province of a very few. Oration and composition were professions, such that you might even hire someone to do either one for you.

Today? Well, there are parallels: Ghostwriters, lobbyists. But unlike yesterday, we also have a democratic scourge allowing anyone at all to express themselves in any number of venues, and particularly, right here on the Internet.

It's that modern debate, the same one that also governs the one over misleading information brokers being able to publish whatever nonsense they wish online also. But now we have ourselves over a proverbial double barrel: Not only do we have a crisis of information brokerage, we also have a crisis of ability to express information cogently and clearly.

Initially it might be said that each cancels the other out. A poor communicator spreading bad information might be a blessing in disguise, after all: If they fail to communicate clearly, or in an interesting way, the short attention span crowd will move on to someone else and not get the bad information. Unfortunately, it won't work that way, for two reasons. The first is that the typical Internet sheep, rather than concede to a lack of understanding, is just as apt to think they did understand, and end up with a message that isn't what the writer intended, but might be just as bad or worse. The second is that the browser will move on and probably eventually find someone who does make the bad information clear or interesting enough.

As we noted here some time back, Josh McDowell was 15 years too late receiving revelations like these. For my part, I did what I could to wake him and others up, but wasn't very successful. The operative question now is whether it's too late, and whether our efforts are now little more than mop-ups in which we seek for that remnant which can still be educated.

It may not matter in practice. In the end the goal will still have the same "how" even if it doesn't have the same "who," in numerical terms.

I'll ask it again....when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith in the West?

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. Looking forward to the next entry.