Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Society of Doers- Dewey and Time Magazine Agree

Time magazine shone the spotlight on “you" when, in 2006, the publication chose you as their 2006 most influential person. You might remember the cover – reflective ink splashed across the front so that when you held it just so you could make out an image of yourself in a YouTube window on a desktop PC. You were the person of the year. Then again, so was I.

Lev Grossman wrote in his defense of the choice for 2006 Person(s) of the Year that the decision was founded on the ability of the public to play an active role in the collective knowledge and broad reporting of events of the year (this due in large part to the Internet).

He writes, “It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes. The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web.”

Leaving behind the already antiquated term “World Wide Web”, Grossman’s analysis holds as true in 2010 as it does in the face of Dewey’s early 21st century philosophy of the public. Dewey outwardly rejects the view that the public is a convergence of spectators. He aims to make societal contribution not a spectator sport, but one of mass inquiry where the public comes together pitting their opinions, knowledge, experience against those of their peers in the quest for higher communal solutions.

What is the Internet if not an embodiment of the public inquiry toted by Dewey? What is Google if not the glue that binds those aforementioned opinions, experiences, etc. together? We turn to the Internet to answer our questions. We turn to it for news, for entertainment, for social networking, for communication. We seek out specifics and the Internet (serving as a platform for the expression of our societal peers) delivers.

Just as Dewey would have us believe, we are not spectators. As Time would announce on its cover in 2006, we are vital and curious actors in the global, online community.

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