Copies of Aristotle and Galen circulated widely, but direct encounter with the relevant texts revealed that the two sources clashed, tarnishing faith in the Ancients. As novelty spread, old institutions seemed exhausted while new ones seemed untrustworthy; as a result, people almost literally didn't know what to think. If you can't trust Aristotle, who can you trust?
Our situation today is not exactly the same, but we can draw parallels. Though we may still trust the Deseret News as a reliable information source, we may still be inclined toward online sources such as a fountain of immediate answers. Once we've entered the digital realm, the search for authenticity is much more complex and difficult. Since anyone can publish anything online, that which is posted may be absolutely false.
Paul Levinson discussed this problem in relation to his own research for New New Media. In this digital revolution, authority is democratized. Levinson did not consult scholarly articles from peer reviewed journals as he wrote his book because they do not exist. With the rate of change in the digital world, he wrote on his own authority as an experienced user of "new new media." No longer must an individual be a trained, experienced journalist to report on a significant event--he or she can simply tweet the news. Isn't that sort of journalism much faster and more accurate, anyway? To quote Ariana Huffington, "The future of quality journalism is not dependent on the future of newspapers." Huffington is the founder of The Huffington Post, a blog "featuring various news sources and columnists . . . [including] coverage of politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, and comedy." The Huffington Post and similar blogs may well be the future of journalism. The dominance of trained, experienced, newspaper journalists is in decline.
So what does this democratization of authority, this digital revolution in publishing, have to do with my research? I've thought a lot about Norbu not wanting me to trust his word only during our skype conversation. Who am I to trust as an authority figure in classroom media in India? What scholarly sources can I consult? I doubt the scholarly sources will extend far beyond Levinson's book itself. Perhaps I, too, will come to the conclusion that my authority and experience with new media are the crucial, if not only, sources of information.