Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Information Addiction

As the bailout package went down in congress yesterday, and the stock market starting dropping like a stone, I was trying to solve a problem in a database at work -- with a pair of web browser windows set to National Review's The Corner and the WSJ Financial Page that I would click over and refresh every five or ten minutes. In the "information age", it's easy for the information hungry to go on an information binge: Ah, the Dow is down 600 points. Oil is down. Now the Dow is only down 500. Representative Cantor criticizing Pelosi's politicization of the bailout -- Pelosi is a piece of work but that seems like a dumb reason to vote against it. Now the Dow is down 650. On, and on, and on.

Information is not the same as knowledge, however, and it is most certainly not doing anything. Not only does my instinctual desire to find out what's going on fail to achieve anything that I'm actually supposed to be getting done (professionally, personally or intellectually) but it does not actually achieve my goal of being informed, because from minute to minute there is not generally anything to know. We have, in this modern age, the ability to push images and text out to the world constantly, but that does not necessarily mean that there is anything worth reading among the stuff produced in the last five minutes at any given time.

In a sense, the old morning and evening newspaper editions cycle reflected the speed at which real information becomes available better than the age of blogging and 24-hour news channels does.

4 comments:

j. christian said...

Darwin,

Is this a commentary on the way I click on your blog about 25 times a day?

Huh, I thought I was getting more than just information here...

Darwin said...

Given that I have yet to actually post "25 times a day", you might be suffering from a similar problem. :-)

[Pause here while my page stats go the way of yesterday's stock market.]

Actually, one of my complaints about much of information age journalism is that rather than writing a whole article with a beginning, middle and when the writer believes he has enough information to do so, there's a tendency to churn out 2-3 paragraphs on what just happened, and then tack on the 10+ paragraphs of general summary and history which has been used in the last several articles on the same topic.

It teases the information addict with the idea that there is always more to know -- when in fact there really isn't anything new out there.

Zach said...

Agreed - not only is there an excess of information but there is a growing inability to digest it and to distinguish what is actually significant.

synjones said...

I fell that the journalism is the best way to fight.I have gone through the different articles on this journalism.Thanks for having the information.
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synjones

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