So I may be digressing from my usual commentary here about how technology’s advances and empowerment have made the internet a powerful tool for free expression, but Trump has also managed to make it a tool of oppression. For example, “Over the weekend, the president of the United States retweeted to his 38 million Twitter followers a video clip doctored to show him driving a golf ball off the tee and between the shoulder blades of Hillary Clinton – ‘Crooked Hillary’ in the tweet – knocking the former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee to the ground. Eighty-four thousand people ‘liked’ this violent takedown of Trump’s former opponent.
A woman has been Speaker of the House (and proved substantially more effective than the two men who succeeded her), another came within a whisker of the presidency, and others (Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine) wield the decisive votes on health-care and other legislation. But recent events make it feel as if we’re in an earlier time, when a woman’s job in politics was simple: sit down and shut up. This no doubt is the work of a president who, by word and deed, make sexism safe again, giving license to shed ‘political correctness and blame troubles on minorities, immigrants and women (Milbank, Washington Post, 9/20/17).”
Unfortunately, it looks like there will not be a second chance for Hillary, but her recent book sale numbers may portend what the future may bring. “What Happened” is now the No. 1 best-selling book in America.
Trump knew where his message would have the most appeal, Heartland, U.S.A. And please don’t try to sell subscriptions to the “New York Times” or “Washington Post” of you are traveling there. No one is buying anyway. Now these media mainstay publications, along with others, have been looking for an Internet age strategy, but “nobody has found it.” Why browse through a newspaper when you can just “order up” the news you want to read online and forget about the rest. That seems to be what most of middle America has been doing this election year. Just get on the Internet and find something you like (it takes so long to read those old print news articles anyway.
I guess the proof is in the fact that he won the Presidential election with the overwhelming support of midwestern Americans. They elected a man who has rarely traveled west of the Hudson River his entire life (well, okay, New Jersey and Philadelphia to broaden his world view :). One adventuresome online news service based in New York City, ProPublica, is now trying to establish some Midwest roots. It is expanding into Illinois with a 10-person editorial team – laudable to be sure, but it can’t begin to make up for vibrant local papers with dozens of beat reporters, statehouse bureaus and investigative teams. Even with a move to the Midwest, “many in the news media believe that news organizations must rebuild relationships of trust with citizens, even Trump supporters.” Now if only I am able to figure out how that trust was lost? Is that really what happened?
So the suggested strategy is for the Democratic Party to change the media landscape (good luck with that). I think in most cases, people will read what reinforces or confirms their perspectives on the world in general. To learn more about your world takes more than just reading your favorite newspapers or listening to your favorite newscasts.
Unfortunately, the title of this blog is more than just a rhetorical question about the future of our public libraries. While these community resources continue to enjoy immense popularity and usage, particularly in most of our urban centers, their continued public funding appears to be in jeopardy. It seems that more public dollars are being invested in underwriting the construction costs of cavernous sport complexes throughout the country.
Perhaps the irony in all of this is that technology’s ability to search and retrieve information from anywhere in the world and put it in the palm of our hand, may be the very force threatening the future of these historic repositories of human knowledge. If you are fortunate enough to have a smartphone and the connectivity wherever you may be, going to the library for the sheer pleasure of browsing or enjoying a quiet space may quickly become a cherished memory of your pre-digital life. If public libraries do become obsolete, we will be losing “the power plants of intellect and opportunity . . . distributed without regard to wealth” (Dwyer, NYTimes, 4/24/15).
Please understand that I am not trying to pit the future of professional sports against the continued existence of public libraries. But I do think this comparison of the amount of public funding invested in sports entertainment while our libraries struggle for the dollars needed for basic operational expenses and maintenance is truly a “wake up” call. Inevitably, I hope that we will all continue to value and support the services of our public libraries and not become hostage to the frenzy of building bigger and better sports complexes at the expense of “our power plants of intellect and opportunity.”
Thanks to Word Press, I can now have a number of different identities online. Okay, but this might be a little confusing to someone as old as me who is learning a new task: writing this blog, creating a new “identity.” And then in the back of my mine, I am reminded by a contemporary that we may all be living on “borrowed time.” If so, I am certainly trying to make the most of it with the identity I have.
So please don’t worry as you read these posts on “TechtoExpress” that you may be hearing the comments of a person with multiple online (or offline) identities. Maybe I will learn to do that some day, but for the present, it’s just me.