Thursday 29 July 2010

Information Flood

I've just been thinking about the sheer volume of information I'm processing these days, and to be honest it's a bit freaky.  You can read about it all you want in cyberpunk novels (Charlie Stross's Accelerando is superb), but for no particularly good reason it's smacked me square in the eyes today.  I've got future shock.

When I was a kid, back in the eighties mostly, I read voraciously.  A book every few days, copies of Reader's Digest that were all sat in the living room ("I Am Geoff's Fight Club Reference").  My friends would phone up sometimes, but mostly we'd go out to play, two or three of us running around in a forest usually.  And there was the TV: three, later four channels.  I remember Doctor Who, Blakes 7, Blue Peter, Challenger and Ghostwatch rather vividly.

But these days it all a bit different.  I've got feeds at work from the book industry's main news sites, Slashdot and New Scientist because of their book reviews, my calendar, notes to myself plus the quantum physics/GR section of Arxiv for personal interest.  I've got a "home" version as well, with my personal email, Twitter feeds from the six most interesting people on the planet, IM client and the like.

I get about twenty or thirty phone calls a day, skim read about thirty books (you can usually tell if a book is "science" or not with a few random paragraphs), ten or so emails plus the usual social interaction know, humans.

It's an order of magnitude change from three TV channels and a few books a week, both in terms of volume and also of the sheer number of sources feeding into my own little head.  It's really quite startling, I feel a little like a rabbit facing a UFO...

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