What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near-forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Mrs. Frederick Bentley will have a Christmas Day dinner at her home for 14 guests,” and, “Mrs. A.W. Hawley entertained on Wednesday afternoon with an interesting ‘Hour of Magic’.” In this series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

Town Crier writers lamented loose talking in the December 20 edition. “Never has there been a time when straight thinking was needed than right now. Loose talking needs a padlock.” It continues, “Every hour we hear and read radical opinions expressed, by those who by tradition and training should be leaders in our community, which if acted upon would inevitably lead to crime and blood-shed.” Town Crier writers feared the worst. “The man with a low-grade mentality broods over fancied wrongs and it takes only a little to put him into the criminal class and that is furnished more often than we think by the loose talking of those who should know better.”

There seems to never have been a time than now when straight thinking is what we need. Lies and half-truths run rampant. Few know that more than Samuel Woolley. Woolley, a writer and researcher with a focus on emerging media technologies will be on Town Hall’s stage on January 9 to discuss his new book, The Reality Game: How the Next Wave of Technology Will Break the Truth. He cautions that technology may soon play an even deeper role in the rise of disinformation—with human-like automated voice systems, machine learning, “deepfake” AI-edited videos and images, interactive memes, virtual reality, and more. Can we survive the onslaught? Tickets are on sale now ($5 and free for anyone 22 and under). 

The 1919 Town Crier story continued, “A thoughtful man said the other day, ‘I’ve had wide experience and know many people of all classes but I’ve never known a good man or a good woman; I’ve never known a bad man or a bad woman. There never was one of either kind – everyone is a blend of both.’ It takes straight thinking to get to that point.” It concludes, “The majority allows others to think for them. It is far easier. Today the issues facing everyone of us require cool and careful thinking and no loose talking.”

There’s plenty of straight thinking at Town Hall. There’s plenty of cool and careful thinking and no loose talking. Join us for an event sometime soon. Our online calendar can be found here.

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