GLENN REYNOLDS IS RIGHT

I couldn’t help agreeing with Glenn Reynolds’ response to my review of his An Army of Davids:

As for Keen's complaint that I fail to address the "crucial" question of "whether or not man is inherently good" -- well, that question could support a book, or a thousand books, on its own. And has.

Reynolds is right to say that this question could support a thousand books. These are the great texts that represent the foundations of our western civilization: Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Ethics, Machiavelli’s Discourses, Hobbes’ Leviathan, Burke’s Reflections on the French Revolution, Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Madison & Hamilton’s Federalist Papers.

Note that uber-blogger Reynolds doesn’t mention blogs. He never says that the question of whether or man is good could support one blog, a thousand blogs or, for that matter, a billion blogs. And he’s right. Blogs can’t investigate complex moral issues because they are, by definition, shallow and transient. They are designed to be written and read instantly. Thus Instapundit’s instantaneous news and information service on his massively popular blog. Don’t think, just write; don’t think, just read.

Some weeks ago, I interviewed Dan Gillmor for my afterTV podcast show. Gillmore is the author of We the Media, a utopian vision of a flattened media worldL48324781_longtailed_macaques_preening . When I asked Gillmor for an example of how blogs are enriching our knowledge of the world, he told me about the communities of Prius owning people that read each others’ blogs so that they could understand their cars better.

Yes, Instapundit Glenn Reynolds is right. The question of the goodness of man is not a subject for a blog. Unless, of course, it is the collective goodness of Prius owners wanting to bathe in each others virtue.

Give a million monkeys a typewriter, it has been said, and you get a decent novel in return. Give a billion humans access to electronic diaries, and all you get as a return on your investment is ephemera. Spontaneous thoughts. Opinion. Communities of Prius owners. Trash.

So here’s my guarantee about the future: Just as Thomas Friedman promised us that country’s with MacDonalds franchises will never go to war with one another, so I will guarantee that no blogger will ever provide lasting wisdom to later generations. That’s a promise. And a warning.