Amerika

Information overload

I never wanted to be a blogger. Blogs to me then looked like Twitter looks to me now: a forum for ego-drama, constant self-expression, and wish fulfillment fantasies.

During the 1980s, I became familiar with how computer technology lured people into the easy illusion of pretending to be more than they were. People went from Second Assistant Counter Clerk to Zorgon, The Omnipotent in the thirty seconds it took to connect to their favorite dial-up.

In addition to that problem, another one haunts us: information overload.

During the past decade, we’ve gone from a nation of dial-ups to a nation of high-speed broadband and checking Facebook on our portable phones, pads and (probably) scuba watches.

Where once we got a newspaper, and had to find out everything else from magazines and books, we now have television howling down our throat, the internet always present, and constant publications at a thousand times the previous rate.

We are drowning in information, and very little of it is unique; in fact, the goal of this time has become learning how to dress-up the same old stuff in “new, ironic” ways.

Is it any wonder that hipsters and others have taken over design, decorating, architecture, art, literature and even our coffee?

Information overload means that those of us who want to blog about information, or ideas or knowledge that did not previously exist, must join in the shouting game. We all try to shout louder than everyone else.

Most of our readers will only read the title of our blog posts as they scroll by the Facebook, RSS, Digg or Pinboard feed. To win out, a blog post needs a catch title and a unique angle; by definition, most of these are more oddball than they are informative.

This means that our quest for better information leads to flashier information formats, but less information.

What I’d really like is an RSS reader that would publish a listing of the top 10-20 news sources I read. There really are not that many you need to keep track of. If it could spit out the posts in the order they are published, and not blockhead listings by source, it would be like a newspaper created from the sources I read.

That would allow me to cut back on information overload a little bit by saying, “Here, here’s my reality. These are the things I read to stay informed. You don’t need the rest; it’s just repeating what these guys are telling you, but in a less accurate form.”

In the meantime, I’ll try to come up with some catchier titles. Ecocide Causes Penis Shrinkage might win out over a lengthy treatise on how to save our environment, in the “marketplace” of “ideas.”

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