I make software for a living and a part of that is creating an easy experience for the users of that software (usability). Over the years in the field of software development a lot has been learned in terms of usability. This can also be seen in the huge amount of gadgets we have these days. From your iPhone to your PC or music systems like Sonos. The internet is also easily available to everybody.
Basic information has become accessible through websites like Wikipedia and the internet has become a lot more easy to search for information on since Google ended the age of poor search engines like Altavista. Even news sites turn scientific articles into easy to digest short news articles making them easily accessible for a larger audience.
Video games have also over the years become more and more accessible. The challenge has long since gone from most games. In terms of skill but also in terms of figuring out yourself how to actually play a game or what is going on. Everything is spelled out. Movies likewise…
Even the software used by software developers to develop other software has started dumbing down.
In general these things are improvements. It’s good that things are finally coming of age. But, and perhaps this is unrelated, it also seems people are less patient these days with trying to solve problems for themselves. Everything is instant gratification or people ignore the product.
If I come across a post on Twitter about people not understanding that the Olympics have a 3000 year history because ‘it’s only 2012, how can it be 3000 years’ or when you hear that in Greece people think a complex global economic crisis can be solved by beating up poor immigrants… you have to worry.
This seems to happen not just for the things described above. But also for the arts. Recently a study apparently came to the conclusion that music is dumbing down in a way you can actually scientifically measure it.
It seems there was only a short period of time when information & knowledge became available in a way it was neither to easy to consume nor to hard or far removed from us regular folk that it would challenge you to think.
I am probably jumping to conclusions. And no doubt it probably would not work. But I think it would be a wonderful thing if the arts, and especially music, would challenge people to think more. And I mean popular music, not the more obscure artists. The arts, in my eyes at least, would be a perfect bridge between way too complicated (philosophy and real science) and too easy (technology and software).
If in the 60ties people where able to appreciate popular music with challenging themes and or more complicated structures, while half of them where even on drugs, why can’t people today?
As I said, it probably is an over simplified idea. One you can shoot holes the size of an elephant in. But it would just be nice if, for example, music could challenge people to think about the state of the world, politics and others instead of just singing ‘baby baby’.