Mike O’Hare’s post on activity v. passivity is worth pondering. One important social variable is the relative prestige value of, e.g., being able to cook a decent meal v. being able to afford a meal at a fancy restaurant, or being able to play the bano v. having a really cool home-entertainment system. Renaissance courtiers had access to excellent professionally-performed music. But one who couldn’t sing or dance would have been looked down on as lacking an accomplishment appropriate to a gentleman. To change the active/passive mix might require, and also forward, changing the relative prestige values.
In this connection, blogging itself provides a curious example, with one huge difference; on many topics, the best blogger actually provides better analysis than the usual professional journalist is allowed to provide.