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Peter Jones Media Ecology, Strategic Foresight, Strategic Innovation

In the current Guardian, American novelist Jonathan Franzen writes “What’s wrong with the modern world?”  Franzen retrieves cranky German polemicist Karl Kraus from the 1930’s to buttress a literary critique of the cultural evaporation accelerated by Big Capital solutionist appropriation of the Internets. Perhaps because there are so few public techno-critics in literary culture in the 21st Century, Franzen seems to own this space for an epic rant (and new book) that pierce our culture’s enamoration with all things interactive, online, gamified, and ultimately, trivial. In the face of the scale of real-world problems faced by our civilization, Franzen is warning that our distraction with the entertaining and trivial, and our failure to invent beneficial alternatives,  is costing us our culture: “… the actual substance of our daily lives is total distraction. We can’t face the real problems; we spent a trillion dollars not really solving a problem in Iraq that wasn’t really a problem; we can’t even agree on how to keep healthcare costs from devouring the GNP. What we can all agree to do instead is to deliver ourselves …