One thing of which I am sure is that the common culture of my youth is gone for good. It was hollowed out by the rise of ethnic “identity politics,” then splintered beyond hope of repair by the emergence of the web-based technologies that so maximized and facilitated cultural choice as to make the broad-based offerings of the old mass media look bland and unchallenging by comparison. For all the nostalgia with which I look back on the days of the Top 40, the Book-of-the-Month Club, and The Ed Sullivan Show, I prefer to make my own cultural decisions, and I welcome the ease with which the new media permit me to do so.
At the same time, however, I still feel the need for a common space in which Americans can come together to talk about the things that matter to us all. And so my hope is that the blogosphere, for all its fissiparous tendencies, will evolve over time into just such a space. No doubt there will always be shouting in the blogosphere, but it need not all be past each other. When the history of blogging is written a half-century from now, its chroniclers may yet record that the highest achievement of the Internet, a seemingly impersonal piece of postmodern technology, turned out to be its unprecedented ability to bring creatures of flesh and blood closer together.
05 June 2005
Maud points us to Terry Teachout's essay on "Culture in the Age of Blogging":