Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The State of Punditry

The state of commentary is changing, and the implications are interesting.

I believe many intelligent people, who also aren't complete extroverts, and know it, when hearing of Asperger's Syndrome, evaluate themselves and decide if maybe they don't have a touch of it themselves. It's a common enough phenomenon, momentarily wondering if we have symptoms of whatever new disease we read about. So I thought about it, too, and decided I really don't. It's a marginal concept anyway, and one could easily make the case that it's mumbo-jumbo.

It's more subjective than I first thought, though. Someone suggested to me I "have" Aspberger's the other day. I said the following:

"One of the defining characteristics (of Aspberger's) is having an area of expertise in which one is truly expert. I don't think I have any compulsive narrow area of expertise. And the theory is that the autistic or partially autistic person doesn't have the ability to pick up social cues that would tell anyone else that the person listening is not really interested. But there's a chance that this says as much about the person who's listening, and not interested, as it does about the speaker.

"For example, I know very well you aren't interested in (what we were discussing) and I just don't care. I know a lot of people who like to learn new things, and if you aren't one of them, so be it. I just throw the stuff out there, you can do with it what you like."

This is because I was offering facts, not opinions.

Everybody is used to people talking socially about their opinions. Every gathering, you'll hear opinions. If people are too strident or vindictive in this, they will get some social feedback about it, but it's a common way of being. And it's all over journalism and TV news stations. Opinions. When a teacher feels like relaxing and socializing with the class at the end of the day, the teacher will offer opinion.

Now the internet is changing news and information. Newspapers failing, bloggers everywhere. Opinion, even educated and well-reasoned, is not paid well anymore. It's everywhere. And like everyone, I'm glad I can find educated and well-reasoned opinion for free on the internet.

No, it's fact that is premium. And it's fact that is socially awkward nowadays. People with facts are shunned, relegated to teaching classrooms, separated. "Do not teach me now, I am not in school."

It's common in our jobs. No one teaches anymore. There will be meetings, and indoctrination, and buzzwords. Most often the employees will take the actual material home, and learn it alone from a book. Or not. There will be also new employees working with experienced ones. Finding one who actually teaches is like finding a gold nugget these days.

It's a truism that one can learn from anyone, even a baby. I will say it would be easier to learn from life if more people taught - outside a classroom.

The internet may force confronting deep issues of social anti-intellectualism that have previously been suppressed.

This is the part of the article where I would invoke the joys of belonging to a fraternity of geeks, a lower form of people who actually have minds. I don't feel like it.