Brian Feeney

Designer & Front-End Developer

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Resident of Brooklyn, NY. Senior Product Designer at the Wall Street Journal.

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November 03, 2014

Plain Reminders

Mandy Brown, from her recent newsletter:

[The] repository of the world’s knowledge has ever been too large for most people to know it completely, and it keeps getting bigger. In that context, choosing to surface history that is technically available but obscured by the sheer enormity of human experience is a kind of radical act. Maybe what we need are not writers who can tell us something new, but those who can plainly remind us of everything we failed to remember.

And she's absolutely right. In the last few hundred years, we've amassed an unfathomable amount of knowledge and wisdom. Finding our way through that is a herculean task, and it's not something our education system is prepared to tackle either. Perhaps a new generation of journalism could be? 

I've long had the feeling that the pendulum-like swing of philosophy has also slowed to an almost full stop. From what I can tell, we've tested all the extremes -- Existentialism to materialism, authoritarianism to totalitarianism, romanticism to realism, etc. -- and are now doing our best to be pragmatic with what we've learned. It's still difficult to make sense of it all, though, without Master's degrees or years of sacrificial reading. There's too much to know and it all requires so much context to understand properly. 

I suppose longer-form journalism has always been a kind of continuing education. It would be nice to push this kind of writing into the foreground. If this is what Brown is proposing, I'm all for it.