by phil on Tuesday Sep 2, 2003 10:47 PM
Phil's Articles, Singularity, information overload
Welcome to the Singularity kids. Step right up. Pick and choose your attire, for you are now going to be a model for how future generations will surf the Singularity.
I'm somewhat bothered by current look & feel.
I feel like am an infovorve. I just swallow information. I have papers I've printed from the Internet, stapled and scattered all over my table waiting to be read. I have URL shortcuts splattered across my desktop. Magazine pages open and sprawled over my chairs and bed area. A laundry list of ideas I want to chew on, from baudrillard to bertrand russell. At the same timee, we're approaching the 700th post on this blog. All the while I'm drowning in mp3 albums from my 33GB collection, all eclectic of course.
I need to relax. I need to read a webpage that has 10 different "related links" and not Shift-Click them all, i.e. open a new window for each of them. I need to slow down my reading, and chew up paragraphs, not blurbs. I need to enjoy the information, see the art.
My current method is like that of a conquest. I search, acquire a target, rip through the scroll button, and out comes an budding understanding of some sexy topic. Sexiness is what it is, and I think sex is a good analogy. Because, sex, unlike love, can be like chocolate or caffeine...not necessarily pure "addiction" but more like a recreational drug. Except on the Net, I'm high all the time.
The topics have to be sexy otherwise I won't even touch it. I used to be excited by things like evolutionary biology and tranhumanist progress. Now I have to find obscure ideas, and am slowly slipping into "Voodoo Schmoodoo" of the like found on Deoxy.
Just like there are recreational users of alcohol and marijuana, there are people who casually surf the net. Likewise, just as there are crackheads of psychotropic substances, there are the crackheads of information--me.
All human activity is prompted by desire. There is a wholly fallacious theory advanced by some earnest moralists to the effect that it is possible to resist desire in the interest of duty and moral principle. I say this is fallacious, not because no man ever acts from a sense of duty, but because duty has no hold on him unless he desires to be dutiful. If you wish to know what men will do, you must know not only or principally their material circumstances, but rather the whole system of their desires with their relative strengths. - Bertrand Russell.
Impulse: boredom. This is oil on my floor that keeps me slipping back into my infovore tendancies.
Solution: super blogroll. I call what we have at the top lefthand skyscraper space by the girl-sketch a revolver. A double-barrel revolver. I stock up this boredom-killer with info-Pez. Essay vaults, art archives, humor hubs. Everyday I play Russian roulette with the revolver at least 30 times, and my mind and boredom get blown away.
Initially, this was exciting. I had found the gun powder that I could pepper my floor with so that the oil of boredom would harden and allow me to sit and breathe peacefully.
Instead, I have choked, and I am choking on this ever expanding law of accelerating returns. Every few days I trip over some undiscovered mountain of glorious new information.
Is this the proper way to approach the Singularity. Is this what my genes are striving me to do, to become a super information recycler? Should we--can we--transcend our genetic imperative for human progress?
Fuck it. I am man, I am unscripted, I can chill, I don't have to conquer texts and conquer information.
This is a bad habit I've developed. I don't want to blame school or anything, but I've spent a lot of my life trying to "hold down" information. It's always been emphasized to acquire or wield an idea like it were a whipping stick to be used to either sensationalize or to attack.
Time to smell the roses I guess.