There’s the story of the true believer who fell off a deep cliff and was barely hanging on by a tiny tree branch. He called up, “Oh God please save me.” A mighty voice came back, “Just let go my son.” As the branch weakened, the panicky believer looked up again, “Is there someone else up there…?”
After a proud 244 years, Encyclopedia Britannica finally closed this month because they too didn’t hear anyone else up there. The Goliath of printed ideas has been slain by the David of digital data, because it didn’t listen to the right voice. There are not many left to mourn its death, because they are too busy tweeting, googling, and emailing. I take it you are among their ranks.
I was a history consultant to Britannica when they entered the field of film. A bold step beyond their traditional books. But when it was time to take the next bold step from film to Internet, they hesitated. We all hesitate at times. Sometimes wisely, often disastrously.
Life doesn’t come with an owner’s manual. So each cliff becomes another test. Which voice to hear…? Even more to the point, which voice to listen to…? At one time in human history the only voices we heard were those of family, clan, tribe, village. Eventually there were other voices from other villages near and far. Today’s generation is the generation in which at last we have become one village. The global electronic village in which there are a billion billion voices every day.
A cacophony or a symphony? Frankly, both. So how’s that tree branch holding lately…?
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