Ed Driscoll

Michael Crichton, RIP

While I making the expected post-election inspection tour of NRO’s Corner, I spotted this sad news from Ian Murray:

Michael Crichton has died “unexpectedly,” with reports suggesting a private struggle against cancer. may he rest in peace. He was one of the few people publicly interested in science with the courage to speak out against the direction environmental politics had pushed it. All who want to honor his memory should read his Caltech speech, Aliens cause global warming.

In addition to having the courage to dissent against the near-monolithic global warming orthodoxy, he also managed to do a pretty good job of predicting the future of the legacy media in 1993. As Jack Shafer wrote back in May in Slate:

In 1993, novelist Michael Crichton riled the news business with a Wired magazine essay titled “Mediasaurus,” in which he prophesied the death of the mass media–specifically the New York Times and the commercial networks. “Vanished, without a trace,” he wrote.

The mediasaurs had about a decade to live, he wrote, before technological advances–“artificial intelligence agents roaming the databases, downloading stuff I am interested in, and assembling for me a front page”–swept them under. Shedding no tears, Crichton wrote that the shoddy mass media deserved its deadly fate.

“[T]he American media produce a product of very poor quality,” he lectured. “Its information is not reliable, it has too much chrome and glitz, its doors rattle, it breaks down almost immediately, and it’s sold without warranty. It’s flashy but it’s basically junk.”

* * *

As we pass his prediction’s 15-year anniversary, I’ve got to declare advantage Crichton. Rot afflicts the newspaper industry, which is shedding staff, circulation, and revenues. It’s gotten so bad in newspaperville that some people want Google to buy the Times and run it as a charity! Evening news viewership continues to evaporate, and while the mass media aren’t going extinct tomorrow, Crichton’s original observations about the media future now ring more true than false. Ask any journalist.

Call it, “The End of Journalism.” That’s what Victor Davis Hanson did recently, whom I interviewed on today’s edition of PJM Political on XM, about his latest essay, in which he wrote, “Sometime in 2008, journalism as we knew it died, and advocacy media took its place.”

All of which were the themes of a June edition of Silicon Graffiti:, which paired my thoughts on Crichton with another pair of futurists, Alvin and Heidi Toffler:




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