Today I got about half-way through Media Unlimited: How The Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives by Todd Gitlin. It reminds me a little bit of Roszak’s Cult of Information which is not meant to be a glowing complement. Roszak self-identifies as a neo-Luddite and, while I applaud his attempt to deflate the unchecked and unrealistic enthusiasm that sounds many people involved in the information technology industry, is overly cynical in my opinion.
Unlike Luddites and neo-Luddites, I am excited about the increasing and increasingly cheap and uninhibited flow of information and positive social impact that this might have. The negative impact of the overwhelming amount of information and the overwhelming ways that it is distributed are important but I don’t believe it is inherently bad. Gitlin is more cynical than I am but more reasonable than Roszak. He is not as unexcited as Roszak but is concerned. He does a very nice job of connecting the problems associated with the massive surge in media with the nature of the information that people are being barraged with.
Gitlin is a good read and it does a good deal of synthesis of a widely varying line-up of thinkers and writers.
I also pleased with the unintended pun in the title. I know many people that can speak to the overwhelming effect that a wholly different type of torrents have in providing highly connected people with more images and sounds than they can easily consume.