Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Big Think

Why don't I like Big Think?

Maybe it's because the site's biggest supporters come off as such smug middlebrow Boomers:

... a Web site that could do for intellectuals what YouTube, the popular video-sharing site, did for bulldogs on skateboards ... The pitch — “a YouTube for ideas” ... “Let’s say someone puts up a porn video next to my macroeconomic speech?”

Some people I like and respect are on there. But so are some of the investors and organizers of the site. Which always feels dicey to me, like those Oscar Williams-edited poetry anthologies that were all over the place when I was younger, featuring the poetry of the greatest verse-crafters of the age -- along with the pedestrian poems of Oscar Williams.

But it's not just that. All I see there are talking head videos. Is that the best use of the medium? I might like their ideas, but if I want them, I'll go to a quiet place and read them in a polished and edited form, not listen to them rattled out in a video clip. And if I want to sit down and watch stuff on the computer, rather than some bald intellectual staring at me for 15 minutes I'll take the amateur bellydancers, or skateboarding dogs, or World of Warcraft mash-ups, or the cat who can use the toilet.

If I want ideas, I want to read them. When did that get to be such a novelty?