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  • 08.13.03

New York’s Trying Times II

I don’t think it’s just the Times. With such media resources as talk radio, TiVo, and blogs, it’s getting so we don’t have to actually go to original sources any more. We can go to secondary sources to get our information, form our opinions, and so on. Frankly, I think that’s slightly dangerous.

In New York magazine not too long ago, Simon Dumenco wrote a wonderful column about the decrease of first-hand experience. Instead of watching must-see TV, Dumenco satisfies friends by saying he’s TiVo’d it. The assumption is that he’ll watch the program later — but Dumenco probably won’t. Similarly, you might not read an article, but you might read articles about the article. (Example: I’d seen references to Dowd’s column online earlier today and decided not to read it. Kevin’s mention of it here made me check it out. I would’ve never known she shame-dropped Fast Company otherwise.)

Just as Keith Hammonds considered the work of Blaise Pascal in a 2002 feature about risk, Dumenco ties this trend to the work of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, who developed the concept of “interpassivity” — contending that new media models can make us hyperpassive.

How much of your company’s competitive intelligence is second-hand — and second-rate? How many decisions do you make based on vicarious experience or knowledge? Something to be careful of…

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