I remember you David. I have read and appreciated a lot of your writings over the years.
Speaking to your original question, I can relate a story told to me by a museum curator a few years ago. The museum decided to stop looking at all submitted work because in the course of a few years the submissions went from a few a month (pre digital) to many a day (post digital). I was also told that the quality was unbelievably bad to the point where people were submitting cat pictures, I kid you not. The curator just did a head shake and said in disgust, "what do you say to these people?" In a way this story does speak to your original hypothesis that people are not paying attention to the past.