Courtesty David Martin

Normally, I like to write all my own material, but David Martin

does it far better this morning. Take a look:

Reading the new Clay Shirky book. A good read; highly recommended…

“In a world where publishing is effortless, the decision to publish something isn’t terribly momentous. Just as movable type raised the value of being able to read and write even as it destroyed the scribal tradition, globally free publishing is making public speech and action more valuable, even as its absolute abundance diminishes the specialness of professional publishing. For a generation that is growing up without the scarcity that made publishing such a serious-minded pursuit, the written word has no special value in and of itself. Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations, pointed out that although water is far more important than diamonds to human life, diamonds are far more expensive, because they are rare. The entire basis on which the scribes earned their keep vanished not when reading and writing vanished but when reading and writing became ubiquitous. If everyone can do something, it is no longer rare enough to pay for, even if it is vital.

The spread of literacy after the invention of movable type ensured not the success of the scribal profession but its end. Instead of mass professionalization, the spread of literacy was a process of mass amateurization. The term “scribe” didn’t get extended to everyone who could read and write. Instead, it simply disappeared, as it no longer denoted a professional class. The profession of calligrapher now survives as a purely decorative art; we make a distinction between the general ability to write and the professional ability to write in a calligraphic hand, just as we do between the general ability to drive and the professional ability to drive a race car. This is what is happening today, not just to newspapers or to media in general but to the global society.”

Here Comes Everybody. The Power of Organizing without Organizations. Chapter 3, Everyone is a Media Outlet. Amazon info here.


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