I finished up Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance last night and was intrigued by something Robert M. Pirsig (the author) wrote in the afterword:
This book has a lot to say about Ancient Greek perspectives and their meaning but there is one perspective it misses. That is their view of time. They saw the future as something that came upon them from behind their backs with the past receding away before their eyes. When you think about it, that’s a more accurate metaphor than our present one. Who really can face the future? All you can do is project from the past, even when the past shows that such projections are often wrong.
Not to stomp all over his exploration of metaphysics, which I appreciated, but I couldn’t help but also think of this view of time as it relates to journalism:
- Print journalism takes a “facing forward” view of time: There’s nothing much to see except for what just happened, which is often quickly forgotten and only hazily remembered in the rush of new information.
- Twitter either takes a facing forward view of time, or is what you see in your extreme periphery from the Ancient Greek view.
- New media journalism done well is the Ancient Greek view of time: It offers not just up-to-the-second news (at the periphery of your vision), but also context and organization for the landscape appearing directly in front of you. As time goes on and more things come into view, they’re continually organized and arranged to fit into their correct places, so that a story that broke yesterday is in the same place 10 years from now, but with a much clearer view. Connections and relations between stories obviously become easier to see, too.
Update: A very timely post by Vin Crosbie of ClickZ, who has “come to the conclusion that the foundation for any news organization in this millennium should be live, interactive databases of utilitarian information….” via @alexgamela