Saturday, August 13, 2005

Rathergate anniversary - 26 days and counting - Thomas Sowell and late talking children

In Thomas Sowell's autobiography, "Personal Odyssey", Dr. Sowell describes (see pages 298-301) his son John's experience as a "late talking" child. John did not start talking until he was nearly four years old. John was quite intelligent notwithstanding his lack of speech. He received a college degree in statistics in 1993.

Because there was little information available to parents of late talking children, Dr. Sowell believed his son's condition to be unique. Neighbors thought that his son was retarded. Dr. Sowell did not learn how widespread his son's condition was until he wrote a column on the subject in 1993. The column resulted in a flood of letters from parents around the country wanting more information. These parents had previously believed their children's conditions to be unique. Dr. Sowell had no further information to provide, but he wrote letters to those who had inquired.

Eventually, he was able to put the parents in touch with each other. A support group developed from these contacts. The support group was able to collect data regarding many common characteristics of late talking children. From this information, Dr. Sowell was able to write a book solely on this subject.

What does this subject have to do with Rathergate?

Every time I read about any subject that is of interest to a large group of people, I think about how the internet, blogging and the new media could have made a difference in the past. In this case, thousands of people believed themselves to be in a unique position and were unable to find each other, pool their resources or discover solutions. Years were lost because of this pre-Rathergate isolation. Dr. Sowell had to communicate with these families (12 years ago) through "snail-mail." Today, this information could have been exchanged instantaneously.

The point is that the new media, and especially Rathergate, is a liberating force that can accelerate the spread of information about many subjects - not just politics. Rathergate was about much more than Dan Rather and one election. Rathergate was a catalyst for the whole "new media" revolution. The revolution was already underway prior to September 8, 2004, but Rathergate added fuel to the fire. Rathergate is almost a metaphor for the whole revolution dating back to the earliest days of the internet and talk radio. That revolution will help the next group that wants information on a medical condition as much as it will help keep CBS News from tampering with elections.

Click here for previous posts on the significance of Rathergate and the countdown.

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