So many conversations that inform the content on this blog happen elsewhere, especially on Twitter. We’re going to better integrate Twitter and the Cybogology blog which will involve posting some of our personal tweets as well as conversations and debates with others here on the blog.

image by dakota fine http://dakotafinephoto.blogspot.com/

This past week I found a Noam Chomsky interview on a local “scene” blog here in DC. It was posted about seven months ago. In the interview, Chomsky talks about digital communication technologies and goes the route that so many older intellectuals do: electronic communications, be it texting, the internet or social media, are inherently “shallow.”

Here is the conversation on Twitter followed by a little more analysis that didn’t quite fit into 140 characters.

“Text messaging, Twitter, that sort of thing…is extremely rapid, very shallow communication” -Chomsky http://t.co/GK33pFVw
nathanjurgenson
October 4, 2011
Chomsky says that Twitter, texting “erodes normal human relations. It makes them more superficial, shallow, evanescent”
nathanjurgenson
October 4, 2011

Here is the story that i was reading and pulled quotes from:

The Secret of Noam: A Chomsky Interview 

“Isn’t it interesting”, he pauses, reflecting, “that eating a banana is somehow comical”. Noam Chomsky says this to me with a semi-straight face. He understands the humor in the situation, yet to his mind the concept seems more of an intellectual observation than a funny moment.
@nathanjurgenson what does Jurgenson say to Chomsky’s charges? ;)
JenniferVEvans
October 4, 2011
i strongly disagree w/ Chomsky, of course. hoped he would have something to say about the evolution of language on twitter/texting
nathanjurgenson
October 4, 2011
Chomsky, like so many others who don’t use new technologies, proclaims the ways others communicate online as “shallow” http://t.co/GK33pFVw
nathanjurgenson
October 4, 2011
dear Chomsky, who benefits when what you call “normal” human relationships get to be considered more “deep” and meaningful?
nathanjurgenson
October 4, 2011
i once asked, “Who benefits from defining one way -their way- of interacting with information as deeper and more true?” http://t.co/rCHnPxnv
nathanjurgenson
October 4, 2011
Chomsky another 1st world intellectual calling knowledges produced w/ mobile devices “shallow” http://t.co/GK33pFVw
nathanjurgenson
October 4, 2011
@nathanjurgenson I often struggle with landing on a side in the shallow vs not shallow re: internet. Its another dichotomy we don’t need.
Nick_Lalone
October 4, 2011
@Nick_Lalone i think the further question is: what does it mean to claim one sort, your sort, of knowledge as “deeper” than another’s?
nathanjurgenson
October 4, 2011
@nathanjurgenson it’s funny how people who think so deeply about so many things can’t think deeply about Twitter. Short circuit!
alexismadrigal
October 4, 2011
@alexismadrigal: @nathanjurgenson This came up in my class last week. It’s because they don’t use it. You can’t get it w/out using it.
techsoc
October 4, 2011
@techsoc @alexismadrigal agreed; but Chomsky should know better than to default to calling forms of knowledge he doesnt understand “shallow”
nathanjurgenson
October 4, 2011
@techsoc @alexismadrigal @nathanjurgenson Chomsky *should* know but he’s used to being literate in social practices. participatory=new game.
bonstewart
October 4, 2011

Claiming certain styles of knowledge production as “shallow” or “not deep” is nothing new. It’s akin to those who claimed that graffiti isn’t art and rap isn’t music. In the realm of epistemology (the study of knowledge), there are great works by people like Foucault or Lyotard who look historically at what ways of knowing get disqualified or subjugated as less true, deep or important. Marxist, Feminist and Intersectional epistemologists, sociologists of knowledge and philosophers of science have long taught us to view these claims about knowledge as claims to power. Who benefits when digital communications are disqualified as less deep?

Does it matter that nonwhites are more likely to produce this knowledge in the U.S.? or that this is disproportionately a way of communicating and producing knowledge in the 3rd World? What does it mean to claim that long-form printed book writing is privileged as more deep and true? Chomsky makes these claims without any reference to the fact that these are also claims to power for a certain set of people with a certain standpoint.