Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Samuel Johnson Meets the Internet

If it really is all about entertainment in the world of television, then at least Britain's More4 News is taking an interesting approach to entertainment. Consider the following report by Urmee Khan, which just appeared on the Telegraph Web site:

The three giants of 19th century British literature will consider the changes in Britain since they were alive, and comment on the state of the country today.

The ‘news’ reports will be broadcast on More4 News as part of the programmes main news line up.

Dr Samuel Johnson will be interpreted by the broadcaster David Stafford, John Ruskin, the critic, will be played by Professor Bernard Richards, a Ruskin expert at Brasenose College Oxford, and Jane Austen will be performed by Rebecca Vaughan, who wrote and performed in 'Austen's Women' at this year's Edinburgh festival.

Reading on, I was particularly impressed in the role that "Dr. Johnson" will be playing in this project:

Dr Johnson will examine the knowledge economy and learn how to use the internet – which he considers a "truly a remarkable piece of apparatus and a boon to scholarship.

Given what we know about the man's irascibility, I can imagine that the experience of his learning to use the Internet might turn out to be more entertaining than any of the antics of Homer Simpson. On the other hand an amusing approach to the frustrations he encounters and to his perseverance in eventually becoming a "knowledge worker" may be an inspiration for viewers. Of course, I suspect that he would be more than a little bilious where phrases like "knowledge worker" and "knowledge economy" are concerned; but, when it comes to letting everyone know that the emperor is naked, could there be a more trusted voice than Johnson's?

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