The End of Big Ideas?

Neal Gabler has a great opinion piece in the New York Times on living in a post-idea world:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/opinion/sunday/the-elusive-big-idea.html?pagewanted=all

Aside from some seemingly obligatory swipes at social media, there is a lot to think about there. Has society become so immersed in information we have lost our desire/ability to think deep thoughts? In an area of abundance, are we so overfed with information we loose our ability to seek more depth? This is not The Shallows argument of us becoming stupid, instead it is a cultural question.

Part of the reason I wrote the Atlas of New Librarianship was because of a perceived lack of big ideas in librarianship. As a profession I worry that we have become so enmeshed in processes and functions, we have begun to loose the centrality of why we do things. Librarianship is at its heart a big idea – that knowledge is the path to improving society, and that the knowledge process needs to be facilitated.

People think the Internet is the enemy of libraries. It is in fact a great boon. Not only can librarians do their jobs better, the abundant information on the web makes people curious – a prime motivator of library use.

No the enemies of libraries is the twin dilemma posed by anti-intellectuals on one hand, and the small thinking hipster on the other. One hates big ideas and the other dismisses them if they cannot be easily monetized. We need information to make good decisions sure, but we need big ideas to know what questions to ask.

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