Despite an information revolution that connects all of us all the time -- or perhaps because of it -- the world has the attention span of a 4-year-old riding in a car:
Call it post-post-Sept. 11, or maybe just a return to status quo ante: Either way, it's pretty clear that that brief moment of consensus -- those very few years when the world's most powerful governments all believed that the world's worst problem was international terrorism -- has now passed.
Once again, everybody is on a different page: Some think the worst problem facing the world is climate change, some think it's poverty in Africa and some think it's the need for a missile defense shield, while others think that all are irrelevant by comparison with Iraq. And once again, Americans are more interested in their own problems than those everywhere else. As far as I could discern, in the United States the main news coming out of last week's summit was that President Bush had a stomachache and missed some of the morning meetings. The world's attention has wandered away from international terrorism -- and so, if I may say, has ours.
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Most of all, though, the world's divided attention proves once again that global Internet access and global television have not created anything resembling a global conversation.