What is the media for today?

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I had lunch today in London with Prospect magazine editor David Goodhart and some of his editorial team. It's a really promising magazine which brings together some of best left/liberal writers in both the UK and the US -- the British version of The Atlantic -- and I am really looking forward to writing more for David in the future (beginning in July with an essay about public intellectuals and the value of the network).

Not uncoincidentally, perhaps, the cover story of June's Prospect is Tom Chatfield's provocative "Rage against the machines" which defends the cultural value of electronic gaming; while the July/August cover of The Atlantic features Nick Carr's brilliantly subversive "Is Google making us stoopid?". Yes, Carr and Chatfield's arguments are antithetical, but what they both prove is that the cultural and educational issues around digital technology are now taking center stage in our intellectual life. Editors can't hide their media and technology columns anymore at the back of their publications. And the debate about the intellectual causes and consequences of electronic media -- Carr versus Chatfield -- is becoming one of the most interesting and passionately argued issues of our age.

It's a debate which can perhaps be summarized by the question: what is the media for today? Tomorrow, I will try to answer that question. I've been invited to participate in the BBC's Media Futures conference at Alexandra Palace in North London. I'll be joined on the "what is the media for today?" panel by the LSE's Charlie Beckett, author of the intriguing new book SuperMedia and Andrew Calcutt from the University of East London. Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, will moderate a debate that I'm sure will be rich in ideas.