It is nice that the internet and the search technology is bringing us access to a fantastic amount of information. I was just pondering over the effects this seeming explosion of knowledge had – on me and a few people around me. Here are a few random observations in no specific order:
The internet puts us in touch with the cognoscenti in extremely narrow fields of specialization. As Anderson argues in his book “The Long Tail”, there is tons of stuff in the fringes of knowledge and human understanding, that has suddenly become part of mainstream culture. We are no longer pursuing popular fads but are instead trying to identify the specific categories/sub-categories that align with our personality.
Our tastes and inclinations seem to have become very specific. At one time for instance, I just wanted a bike. Now I know that I need an all terrain bike which has full suspension, bike shoe friendly pedals and shimono speed shifters. This ability to sift through information and identify what exactly we need, gives us an amazing amount of empowerment. It also helps us identify what we want with increased precision. My son would (and should) no longer be content being a “run of the mill” engineer or a doctor. He should identify the exact thing that is interesting him. I see this happening increasingly around me when i talk to the kids around me.
People suddenly find themselves increasingly in touch with the rich and the famous. After all, anyone must be “google”able to even be reckoned as important. No more celebrities in their ivory towers now! Be it Obama, Osama or the Big B – they all beckon to us from across the wires using their blogs, forums, facebook, twitter and the like.
People seem to consider their ability to google (or bing) for information to be directly proportional to their mental faculties. There is no need anymore to analyze the information obtained and dissect the knowledge. Instead, the need of the hour seems to be to just quote it. In fact, if you want to say anything important at all you better put it down on the internet or else you run the risk of being out-googled and out-quoted. In short people have become search engines :PThis is all truly democratic. But sometimes I get tired of all this stuff. I don’t want to know anything more. I just want to chill and relax! Maybe fix myself a drink or read a PG Wodehouse. I get tired of being constantly challenged by some pseudo novice who has the insouciance to suppose that he can sabotage my bright idea by being the mouth piece of someone else who might have at some time in the past, refuted, a possibly similar idea somewhere in the dark recesses of the internet! Is this a sign of internet fatigue? Speaking of which let me just try googling for internet fatigue and see what I can come up with.. sigh!