There used to be a time when citizens of the same city or country would all read a daily newspaper. Nearly everyone read the same news stories at the same time, and proceeded to the day’s business with the same public information. In public spaces – the town square, the barbershop, the office water cooler – fellow citizens would discuss and debate the day’s events. Today of course, fewer and fewer people read a physical paper, relying instead on digital forms of information via news websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. On the one hand, this digital revolution provides exponentially more opportunities to learn about the world, from an exponentially greater number of sources. It provides greater convenience and timeliness – we can now catch up with the state of the world, to the latest minute, at all hours of the day or night. It also allows us to interact with people from around the world whom we otherwise might never meet in our day-to-day lives.
But what are we missing?
In his seminal book, Imagined Communities, nationalism scholar Benedict Anderson makes a powerful case for why the act of reading a daily newspaper was crucial to establishing cohesive, engaged, and (ultimately) democratic political communities around the world. Our shift away from reading the daily newspaper risks leaving behind habits that are important to building healthy, engaged societies. While digital media provides up-to-the-minute updates of developing events, our increasing preference for click-bait/trending/tweetable messages leaves little room for actually understanding the deeper forces that are shaping thew world today. And whereas digital media allows us to interact with people from around the world on any given topic, we risk losing a more permanent community of citizens who read and discuss the same news stories on a regular basis.
Welcome to the Republic.
PineTreeRepublic seeks to take the best of both worlds, print and digital, to help readers better understand the forces that are shaping our world today. We’ll start out by offering weekly posts called “Front Page News” – essentially recreating a digital version of reading and discussing the front page of the newspaper at your local barbershop/water cooler/town square. Each post will feature three-five of the top news articles of each week, accompanied by a brief systems analysis providing some context to help make meaning of the week’s events. Most importantly, each post will conclude with a series of discussion questions to help foster ongoing discussion of what the week’s news means in a broader context. It’s my hope that this discussion, and the community we create out of it, will be the most important contribution of this blog.
Why the name PineTreeRepublic?
PineTreeRepublic came together from four distinct thoughts:
1. “Republic” represents the community of engaged, cosmopolitan citizens that this blog hopes to create.
2. Pine Tree refers to the metaphor of seeing the forest for the trees – with respect to this blog, seeing the broader context and links (“forest”) from individual events (“trees”).
3. Pine tree was specifically chosen for the cosmopolitan nature of pine trees, which can be found in most countries around the Northern Hemisphere and in many tropical locations as well.
4. Most importantly, pine trees are just really neat.
How can I join PineTreeRepublic?
If you want to learn more about myself and the blog, please don’t hesitate to read the About Me and About This Site pages. When you’re ready to join, you can subscribe to weekly newsletters with new posts through the sign-up feature above. I’ll also be featuring different content in the weeks to come, so be sure to check back regularly for new exciting features!