Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I'm going Hunting

I wonder, was Gutenberg hated by traditionalists like some neo-luddites loathe the guys at Google? The media we consume is changing, in micro movements and in great bounds. I'm not sure how these changes are changing us, but I'm confident that they are to some degree.

I turn from my computer screen to a book, and its dry and slippery pages are suddenly and inexplicably pure betweeen my fingers. This thing in my hands was once a voice across the fire, maybe a soft hand on my head as I courted sleep. The light of the screen accosts my eyes. The barrage of information is laid out before me: stripped naked, and we've barely met. I did not work for this. I did not earn this. I did not find this. Yet here it is: what does it ask of me? Why am I so numb?

In a recent Details interview, Bjork (the Islandic recording artist) declared that she found nothing so "organic" an experience than sitting in the woods compsing music on her laptop. I admired her ability to synthesize the natural and the invention. The idea of the machine as powerless but for our touch, is liberating.

Still, for some reason it is only when I read or hear information that I feel I have truly gleaned it. Cultivated and shucked like corn for a feast. Pulled like bright carrots from the dark earth. When the Internet is my guide, I feel as though I have only absorbed such knowledge. Passivity, caught, as if in a deluge, chased by an encroaching tide, hunted. Am I one of the last children of books? Am I pushing against the gales of electronic media, or being refreshed by the foretastes of freedom it carries?

"If travel is searching / and home what's been found / I'm not stopping / I'm going hunting / I'm the hunter / I'll bring back the goods / but i don't know when." -Bjork-


Mark said...

I have a hard time reading for more than 30 minutes at a time. (30 minutes really is about the upper limit of my attention span for reading.) I do a lot better if I have my computer near by so that every 5 or 10 minutes I can check my e-mail or check the blogs that are in my RSS feed--usually there are no new posts, but checking alone is enough of a mind break that I can go back to reading.

It might be speculated that the interweb has ruined me with its high paced, high volume, and diverse ammount of content, but I don't think that's the case (if anything ruined me in this fashion, it was surely Sesame Street, with its high speed, high... etc. content and exposure at such a young age...)

In actual fact, I don't think that any of these things ruined my attention span. I think that it is just something that I am disposed to. That said, I think that, in general, the interweb gets me thinking about various things--philosophy and otherwise--more than I would otherwise.

This is however, just speculation.

Jen said...

Your points are well-taken. I do think some people are more natural at focusing on information for a long period of time. I also agree that the 'net opens us up to a lot of things, my post was more just a creative inquiry (however elementary!) into the negative side-effects of this. I'm not meaning to say that computers or technology is BAD, I just wanted to begin to explore some of my feelings towards it. It's not the actual internet I'm challenging, more so just the changes in media we experience as a collective post-industrial culture, in general. Sometimes I just wonder if it's having effects on us that we don't even recognize. But then maybe I've just read too much Marshall McLuhan.