What is the thesis and how does the author support the thesis? (For the IRTNOG piece written by E.B. White)
The implied thesis is that with the staggering increase of printed information, people will prefer shorter, condensed versions of news and literature. White ironically concludes that this is for the public good, but the implicit message is that when people resort to reading short summaries and condensed information, they will lose critical and contextual thinking skills.
"IRTNOG" is a satirical piece with serious implications. It was written in the 1930s by E. B. White. It is about how the culture was bombarded by increasing amounts of media and printed publications. The bombardment was growing so fast that it became impossible to keep up with all the information. This piece from the 1930s is so incredibly appropriate today in 2015 because the bombardment of information is exponentially worse.
He illustrates how people are continually reading. Barbers will read until a customer enters. Then a waiting customer will pick up a magazine while he waits. We see this in modern society. A cashier is on his/her phone, reading and texting, until a patron comes in. And sometimes the patron is reading magazines at the checkout counter or he/she is one the phone as well, texting or reading the latest news of some reality television show.
White continues, saying people not only have to read an author's work. They have to read the criticism and the praise of the work. But then along came publications like Reader's Digest, Time, Newsweek, and short story collections. These publications condensed the news and literature into shorter bursts of information. This made it easier to stay current with the culture. But then there were too many of these "digests." So, there had to be a digest of digests. This is where it gets satirical. White says that one "superdigest" condensed a Hemingway novel down to the word "Bang!" Another reduced an article on how to deal with an unruly child to the phrase "Hit him."
White gets even more hyperbolic and his vision of the future becomes a dystopia. He claims that in 1960, a genius named Abe Shapiro came up with a formula to reduce all news information from one day down to a single word. The first day he uses the formula, the word is "IRTNOG." People accepted this, leading to the conclusion that people didn't really crave information or knowledge. They just didn't want to think they are missing out. One could consider this a secondary thesis or a conclusion.