Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ironic Internet Twist

I'm still reading the book, "Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything" by James Gleick.  There is a chapter called "Short Term Memory" that I read tonight that made me stop to think about life and this internet data stuff we busy ourselves with (including reading and writing this blog....).  I decided that there was no good way for me to paraphrase, so I'm just going to type a few sections out- feel free to skip around, but I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys random facts of life and/or sitting, staring absentmindedly at the wall pondering the facts of life.

Watch this clip from Animal House... the conversation between Pinto and Donald Sutherland kind of sums up how I'm feeling with this book right now.

So here it goes, from pages 249-255 of "Faster":

Many of the world's librarians, archivists, and Internet experts see a crisis looming.  They warn that our burgeoning digital culture is heading for oblivion, and fast.  "There has never been a time of such drastic and irretrievable information loss," says Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog a generation ago.  Our collective memoriy is already beginning to fade away, he argues.  Future anthropologists will find our pottery but not our E-mail....  
..Perhaps the speed and richness of the Internet have lulled us, letting children in Boise read census data from Washington and oral histroy from Hiroshima.  Words swim instantly across the network, not caring about the mileage, and we don't exactly feel information-deprived.  We may be drowning, actually.  but are we sacrificing longevity to gain glut?  
It's scary.  And yet... 
It's the age-old argument of quantity versus quality- there is so much coming at one person in a single day that there is no way for us to catalog and retain every bit.  But ultimately, how do we know the difference between quality information and, for lack of better words, not-so-much quality information?  Who tells?  I for instance, can't get rid of the information I learned on a True Facts video about ducks.  I may get the numbers a little mixed around, but the facts are in there.  Never leaving.  Google that shit and you will never see ducks the same.  It is like the first time I saw my second-favorite university campus animal (after dogs, obviously), the squirrels, getting busy in a tree outside the Literary Arts Building.  Before I really enjoyed the furry little guys and their presumed innocence.  
But I digress.... I remember ducks have anti-rape vaginas, something that I don't need or want to remember, but there are times when I have to think twice before I answer what my age is.  So who determines what information makes it to the next level of humanity?    

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