“Statesmen of World War I lamented afterward that if only the negotiations in the days before the first mobilizations had not been conducted by telegraph, the war might have been avoided.

“The problem, they said, was that none of the kings or foreign ministers of Europe had accustomed themselves to the speed of information, to the quantity of it that became available when telegraphs replaced letters.  And in their confusion, they felt they had to act and decide at the (then-blistering) speed of a telegraph machine. It destroyed their judgment.”

– Joshua Cooper Ramo, The Age of the Unthinkable


  1. Very true. When I gave up my TV and home internet to save money, the very first thing I thought was “what if there’s a national emergency?” – then thought – if it’s an emergency that really affects me (storm, bombing, pandemic), I’ll know about it because it will affect me.

    If it’s something that I shouldn’t worry about, I won’t know about it and thus won’t worry about it. Of course, still having internet access on my phone or at work throws a wrench into this whole arrangement 😉

    Bringing the news of the world to everyone’s screen does have its drawbacks – it emphasizes the unimportant and barrages us with so much information that we’ve little room to pay attention to the things that really make an impact on us personally. Which is why so many people take the broadcasted actions of nameless public figures so personally these days, when in fact they experience little change to their own lives as a consequence of most government actions.

  2. I’d have to disagree wit the point raised above that most government actions impact our lives very little. Take the current EI debate as a prime example: it could largely determine whether people are eligible once they lose their job, which is very important for a great many people. That could impact whether they lose their home, etc.

    If only those who are forced to apply for EI are aware of any possible problem in its eligibility, then it’s not going to be fixed, but because the issue is widely known it’s being debated with the attention it deserves.

    There are certainly other examples of news that are frivolous and unnecessary, but it is important that we know what’s happening in the world outside our own little bubble.

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