Monday, January 30, 2012

#PRDefined, Focused on Value-Building ...

... but how does this affect the values of public relations? What happens to values when all the talk is about building value? What happens to values when a profession redefines itself? 

There's got to be more going on than just what the word clouds show up.  Check out the latest blog post at

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

William Powers, the latest voice in a never-ending conversation

As you begin to consider crossing Hamlet's BlackBerry with another voice, here are other people who have called our attention to technology and its impact on humans.  Some clearly belong in the technology-is-bad camp: Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death from the 1980s and Technopoly from the 1990s come to mind. Sherry Turkle's Life on the Screen from the 1990s, Alone Together (2011), and The Second Self from the 1980s are all more nuanced, raising questions about our interactions.  One of many pro-technology books that got a lot of ink in the 1990s was Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital. Most of these books sit in my office, and you may borrow one if you like.

If you'd like to tackle some classical literature (mostly in essay form), I would recommend Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, the Buddha's Meditation: Path to Enlightenment, Plato's "Allegory of the Cave," Nietzsche's "Apollonianism and Dionysianism," B.F Skinner's "What is Man?," Lao-Tzu's "Thoughts from the Tao Te Ching," or Christine de Pisan's "Book of Three Virtues." Many of these essays and books may be found online. They all concern the value of balance, and may also address the contemplative life, as compared to an active or over-busy life. I'll let you Google them or find them via Wikipedia ...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blog addresses for ethics class

This blog will be devoted to musings about media ethics for spring 2012 ...

Is there joy in noise? Or joy in quiet?

I'm asking students to find time to contemplate these questions, and that will require quiet. We're reading a NYTimes article from late last year, headlined "The Joy of Quiet," and later this semester, we'll be reading Hamlet's BlackBerry, by William Powers.

I would like for students to make connections between ethics and quiet, between doing the right thing, and having time to contemplate good and right actions, which are often hard.  I think that "hard" decisions take a lot of muscle and quiet, rather than the hurried actions in noisy contexts that fill most of our day.

In other words, does distraction distance us from our thinking, most ethical selves? Can speed and quality thinking go together? Pico Iyer, writer of the NYTimes article, tells us this problem of distraction by too-many screens is nothing new, when quoting a French philosopher from the 1600s who wrote, “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.”