Shorter Martin Gurri

Arnold Kling blogs:

1. Starting around 2000, the amount of information on the Internet doubles in a year. If that goes on for ten years, there would have been 420 million times the information in 2010 as in 2000. Even if that number is imprecise (and it has to be imprecise), there is way more information out there than there used to be. The increase is staggering.

2. 20th-century elites and institutions relied on having a much less chaotic and engulfing information environment. Politicians, journalists, and academics now are overwhelmed by: (a) what they don’t know that others do know. Think of citizens using cell phones to cover events sooner and more completely than paid journalists; and (b) by the amount that others know about them that they used to able to keep secret. Think of President Kennedy trying to get away with his sexual escapades today.

3. The elites cannot accept the new reality that there is so much information that they cannot control. They see new competitors as illegitimate (“fake news”) and they blame others for elites’ loss of status and respect.

4. The general public is frustrated by the arrogance of the elites, and they have the means to assemble revolts. This has happened everywhere, from the Arab Spring to the Yellow Vests to the January 6 riot. These revolts have no organization and so they end up not accomplishing much.

5. Society requires authority. But the existing authorities can seemingly do nothing other than hope for a return to the 20th century when they had closer to a monopoly on information. And they seem to be completely incapable of dealing with the digital world. They cannot operate at Internet speed (it takes the bureaucracy too long to react to events) or at Internet scale (the Obamacare web site fiasco).

6. Maybe a new generation of elites and/or institutions will emerge that is more adept at dealing with technology and sufficiently humble to deal with a situation in which information is more dispersed than it was last century.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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