The opportunity to challenge traditional means of knowledge production and distribution appeals more to those outside of the structures of authority (e.g., academy, government). New media allow the masses to redefine what is creative and what is deemed valuable, and therefore worthy of continued circulation, discussion, and distribution. This of course, is not without its pitfalls–offensive, racist or sexist material may be “voted” up and legitimated through the “wisdom of the crowd”.
It was two years ago at a Black History Month celebration that Attorney General Eric Holder observed that we live in a “nation of cowards” unwilling to have an honest conversation about race. Holder’s remarks sparked a firestorm of criticism from conservatives who felt his comments painted America in a negative light. But was Holder right?
So often in our public discourse the plight of the poor is subsumed within the needs of the middle class (i.e., “a rising tide lifts all boats”) or all together ignored. While this familiar narrative unfolded during Tavis Smiley’s America’s Next Chapter forum (I’ll return to this point later), it was refreshing to hear the conversation begin with a focus on America’s forgotten class.
During his State of the Union address President Obama placed special emphasis on technology as an underlying force driving change in our economy. Before laying out his vision of a new era of American innovation, Obama noted that “thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution.” While I was happy to hear the president talk about the internet and the promise of technology, I couldn’t help feeling that the focus on “winning the future” through innovation was a way to bypass dealing with today’s difficult challenges.