PBS Roundtable in Full Swing

I’m leading a series of monthly roundtables at http://pbsdigitalnation.org . They will be in the style of Steven Johnson’s original Feed magazine – or as close to that as we can get for the time being – where visitors can develop threaded conversations around the original posts.

The first topic is the PBS Frontline’s Digital Nation documentary, and – perhaps predictably – not everyone in the show likes the way it came out. This is how one from Henry Jenkins begins:

I frankly found the documentary itself mind-numbing and relentless. It rarely trusts the viewer to draw their own conclusions about what they are seeing and it deploys much of the material in ways which point towards a much less nuanced conclusion than any of the participants in the conversation might have advocated. The website allows us to ask our own questions, while the documentary tells us what to think.

And here’s a snip from Second Life founder Philip Rosedale’s thoughts on the end of text:

Hi! Although sequentially reading the individual words comprising an entire novel is a wonderful and complete experience (I’m 41 and spent a big part of my childhood reading everything I could well before computers were available), the most recent research in how the brain is probably organized suggests a better fit between the way we ‘read’ in the digital world of today and the way we actually store and manipulate information internally. The magnificent sense of ‘getting’ Great Expectations has to do with fractal/hierarchical memories that are simultaneously evoked and span different levels of abstraction/cognition. So each of us a has a different (but fairly similar) high level ‘memory’ of what Victorian women were life, for example. That feeling can be instantly evoked by a small trigger – like reading any part of that book. The act of coming to deeply understand the text is the act of connecting and storing a bunch of associations that become your memory of the book. This actually fits pretty well with the cliffnotes + chat + a couple of pictures + a couple of blogs model that compresses a long text into a few minutes of what are effectively short evocative hyperlinks.

Please come visit, participate, share ideas for future roundtables! Next month, a debate about “The Crowd” with Jimmy Wales, Kevin Kelly, Sherry Turkle, Nick Carr, Mark Pesce, RU Sirius, Clay Shirky, Danah Boyd, and Amy Bruckman.