And You Thought Think-Global-Act-Local Was A Good Thing

I was wandering through O’Hare Field one day while waiting to meet someone. I passed the international newspaper stand, and studied it. If you have ever done so, you’ll know what I mean when I report one of those Aha! or Eureka! moments. Because there sat our local editions, side by side with a slew of global editions. Suddenly you realize something so obvious you wonder why you missed it before.

A few stories are important enough to make all the editions. Yet at the very same time, most stories are only important to their local readers. Chicago is reporting items that don’t make a tinker’s damn to Cleveland, Miami, London, Berlin or Cairo; while they do the very same.

Thinking globally may be a lovely ideal….paying attention only locally is more the rule.

Case in point. Every edition that day was reporting the staggering news about our progress with AI [artificial intelligence]. They were saying the “accumulated knowledge of mankind didn’t double until about the year 1800; but then doubled again by 1900; and at today’s computerized rates it’s soon expected to double every 72 hours…” A staggering reality with inestimable academic, economic and social consequences.

Now here’s my Aha! or Eureka!

How I wonder will our small, self-centered minds achieve any global usefulness with this astounding reality while the rest of the editions spent most of the rest of their space covering the local team, the local expressway congestion, the local gang problems, the local lottery winner, the local high school prom queen, the local this and that and whatever that will stuff those pages with something, anything, busy readers will stop to read?

The clear answer is that all of us — readers, editors, nations — are by nature mostly insular and isolated. Keep my life simple, safe, and comfortably familiar. That big global stuff, interesting yeah but please not today. “Honey, hand me the sports section….”

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