Clay Shirky is someone I'm trying to read a bit more of. In an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review he talks about the demise of literacy as an outcome of television becoming pervasive, not the web becoming pervasive. He says that the demise was done and dusted by 1970, and that the advent of Web 2.0 technologies is actually bringing back reading and writing, it's just that those rejoining this literary space don't bring with them the richness of writing that Tolstoy engendered.
Shirky makes a lovely comment about half way through ...
"RJ: What’s your response to people who say that all this information that’s out there, all this knowledge that we’re producing is great, and there’s all this access that we didn’t have before. But we also risk information overload alongside, and we don’t—
CS: Oh, those are the stupidest people in the entire debate because they, I mean, almost all of the people arguing that this is the Dark Ages are narcissists, because they’re essentially trying to preserve a particular piece of it."
I like this line of thought. Thanks Clay!