Giving the keynote address today was MacArthur “genius” and author of Discovering the News (which is probably the one book I cite in everything I’ve ever written), Michael Schudson. He gave props to my professor David Greenberg in addressing his topic–the history of frankness (Greenberg is writing a history of spin. That’s the joke).
He started off with some amusingly disparaging talk about theory. In short, theories are always wrong. If we, as researchers, do our jobs, we will eventually prove every theory–wrong. And yet, theories are useful to us as a way of organizing, as a way of figuring out what the “story” is. I scribbled down this thought of his:
“We want a simple world. But it’s not clear that simpler is better.”
The actual thesis of his talk was interesting, as was a comment raised by my professor Deepa Kumar, but for me, that quote was the takeaway.