Looking at my blog today, I realized there was a theme going with my Google Reader shared items. As I write this, the five posts displayed in my blog’s sidebar are:
- Ladies and Gentlemen, The Conversation Has Left The Building
- The Next Generation Search Engine – Cluuz
- We need a Wikipedia for data
- Twitter is Like Sex
- Seven Tips for Making the Most of Your RSS Reader
All of these blog posts are information about getting, managing, directing information in order to get more information. I’m not really conveying that as well as I’d like… basically, I think they’re going around in circles. Have you ever seen a little kid spill a bunch of ice cubes, and every time he/she bends down to pick an ice cube up and put it back in the glass, another one falls out of the glass? And if they don’t realize what’s happening, they can get into a sort of hypnotic daze – dropping and picking up the same ice cubes over and over as they all melt.
Sometimes I see the internet as a playground full of little kids with ice cubes. It’s a weird conflict for me, as though I have two opposing personalities. One personality – we’ll call Thing One – only values things that are REAL and SENSORY and capable of demonstrating their value/effectiveness/quality by being touched, tasted, or seen without a monitor. The other personality – Thing Two – enjoys keeping up with blogs, building wikis, tweaking CSS code, mapping out a file structure, and so on. Sometimes Thing One gets fed up with Thing Two and wants to storm off in a huff of self-righteousness.
Thing Two picked out the blog posts I mentioned above because they seemed really interesting and beneficial to information science-y types of people… you know, like the people who get degrees in this stuff.
Thing One took one look at those posts and threw her hands in the air. “What’s the point?” she asked Thing Two. “It’s all nonsense, like American currency. None of this information about information actually goes back to anything real. There’s no physical original behind any of this. It’s all just words.” Thing Two smiles and shrugs. Thing Two knows that most of this Web 2.0 stuff is more about people and personality than what those people and personalities write, but she doesn’t know how to explain that to Thing One, who just left for a walk anyway.
With Spring coming on strong here in Illinois, Thing One is getting more and more restless. She suspects that Thing Two’s interests and activities will not really amount to much in the long run. A wiki/blog/website can be deleted and no one might be the wiser or better for it having ever existed. A tree can grow and grow and grow by itself, offer shade, offer fruit, and when it dies it becomes healthy compost for the next round of living things. This is Thing One’s outlook.
Thing Two – the more soft spoken of the two, by far – doesn’t think these things are going away any time soon and wants to find a balance between the invisible data world that she lives in and the physical, tangible world that Thing One inhabits. But she needs to find it soon or Thing One might run away and join a commune where they don’t even have electricity, much less silly things like these glorified paperweights known as “computers”…