Sunday, April 03, 2011


There is a never-ending supply of information. It is neither static or fluid. Information resides. I don't think it does anything more than that. Resides.

It does change of course. Information is a collection of data. It's words, symbols, images, numeric scales. It's news I guess, in a sort of transient way. That transience is cached of course, so it isn't as transient and temporary as we might like to assume. Still, Information on the World Wide Web (WWW) has the smell of the ephemeral about it, sort of part elusive and mostly forgettable.

We talk of there being an Information Overload. A total bombardment to our psyches of bytes and bits of data that compresses and explodes our minds in simultaneous fashion. We are supposedly changing humanities neural perceptions of thought, thinking and doing through the use of our Informational tools - maybe!

David Allen of Getting Things Done fame, doesn't believe in Information Overloads. He is right I think. No one ever dies upon walking into a library which is replete with information.

The information we get from the web is not quite like books, however. Books usually have editors. This gives the information contained within a book a certain quality of credibility that is difficult for non-editors to refute.

Books on a shelf are also encapsulated. They're physical. They have boundaries. The information in them is emphatic and embodied.

Information from the WWW is jangling on the psyche. We pick at information from the web like a baboon picks at ticks. We seek, surf, scrutinise, taste or discard. We don't so much as read information as scan it for further scrutiny. There's no definition to it. There's links to links to new links to new Information

Knowing how to discern the nature of Information is becoming the skill de rigueur! To know how to tell if what's been purported has merit: to know how to sift through what is a possible truth and what is out and out fiction. This is the skill that is required of readers today. To just read without discernment is foolish and gullible. To read with an acute awareness for the potential veracity or none in what one is reading is becoming a requisite device in the cognitive toolkit.

Thought and opinion are as much on the readers bookshelf as is encyclopaedia. What one now needs to understand is that there still is no overload of Information - just that there is a plethora of crap through which to wade in order to find what it is you're looking for!

This probably happened in the past too - people were bombarded with leaflets and essays at the beginning of mass literacy! Many gullibly accepted what they read regardless too! That happens with the web even now.

It took nearly 10 years before I finally convinced people that sending me emails about some scandalous virus doing the rounds were an inefficient waste of my time - and theirs! Learning HOW to find out if those emails were indeed "true" is the key to utilising Information from the web in a useful way.

So reading isn't the same as it used to be. To read a book, it's sort of orderly; you read page 1, then page 2 and the thoughts all flow in sequential order pretty much! Reading and absorbing Information from the web is quite different. There's a sort of subconscious Occam's Razor in play within the psyche. If its boring, seems unintelligible, sounds crazy, isn't able to be verified, seems "wrong" somehow - it'll most likely go viral and thousands will accept it as the undeniable "truth".

If the Information on the web is indeed astutely edited, peer-reviewed, collectively agreed to, open to argument and discussion, it's likely going to just sit there on the web, cached for eternity, resembling a cyber version of my Dad's old Encyclopaedia Brittanica's on the bookshelf. Useful but decidedly prosaic and utilitarian, hardly likely to be anything but scanned when necessary by those who are looking for answers.

Hardly overload. Hardly transient.

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