Thursday, September 22, 2005


"Come on-- keep up, will you?!"

That's what I said to my computer this morning when it was performing too slowly. It seemed as though my mind was working, multi-tasking even, at several times the speed of my Windows operating system.

I know, I know. Even when my programs seem to be functioning with agonizing slowness, the CPU is working at light speed compared to my ability to calculate an algorithm or whatever, blah, blah, blah. The computer is our friend, yaddah, yaddah, technology makes us smarter, richer and happier.

It doesn't of course. I recently finished a book about the Lewis and Clark expedition, which pointed out that in 1806 -- before the steam engine and the telegraph -- information traveled overland at the speed of a horse. News and ideas could spread only as far and as fast as a horse-rider could travel in a day. Lewis and Clark made huge news by reaching the Pacific, but they had to bring the news of their success back to civilization themselves. Once they reached St. Louis -- the largest settlement west of the Appalachians -- it took weeks for word to get back to President Jefferson.

Were Americans in 1806 dumber and poorer than we are now? The most you can say is "maybe in some ways." Things are different, but different is not necessarily better, or better in every way.

Here's an illustration. I think the internet is amazing, and I truly believe that the internet serves as a vehicle for the dissemination of accurate information that is superior to the former system in which we depended mostly on a mainstream media oligarchy for our news and information.

And yet, fully armed with the Internet, in 2004 the American people made what may be the stupidest, most ill-informed electoral decision in our history.

What's that about? Technology increases access to information, but doesn't necessarily improve it. The internet is also an incredible vehicle for inaccurate information. The accurate stuff is surrounded by huge volumes of noise. And our brains are not really much faster at analyzing all this stuff.

"Come on -- Keep up, will you"?

Reminds me a little of that bit by Cathy Ladman: Her father was so impatient that he would stand in front of the microwave and growl "Come onnnn!"
Whoa. Deja vu! I'm sure I've read this before...
If we could only filter all information through someone like you who has superior intellect compared to the all of the rest of us, we would all be better off.
Kathyr: Who's Cathy Ladman?

Sleep Goblin: Are you saying that my post is stunningly unoriginal, or are you saying that I'm repeating myself?

Bryan: Ouch! Nasty sarcasm!
That was in earnest, man.
No really! It's Deja Vu! That's such a weird feeling...
I think Bryan is indicating the lazy trend of the majority of people - they want someone ELSE to filter the "good stuff" from the noise. It's a lot of work, you know...
Well here's the thing....Don't confuse alot with good.

In the "olden days" things weren't communicated that quickly. Does that mean that our foreberes didn't have to filter out what was relevant when they received information? I find it hard to believe that didn't take place. It's just done at a faster and more transparent matter now. People in by- gone days weren't stupid, if they were, we would have the socity that we have today.
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