Information talk slides february2011 1-finalPresentation Transcript
Is Twitter Eroding our Humanity? Information Overload in the 21st Century Kaisa Schreck, Editor, International Relations and Security Network (ISN), ETH Zurich
From Books to the Online World
Moore’s law of exponential growth in tech capacity; processing power doubling, prices down by 99,9% since 60’s
Personal computing since 80’s, now mobile computing
Birth of world wide web in 1991, now trillions of pages
>2 billion people online, 5% of world electricity
More information created every year than past 5,000 years; more info in newspaper than 19 th C lifetime
Dual change: tech capacity AND info explosion
Information Meets the Net
Open, easy, cheap to produce and spread info
“ The Internet is an innovation that brings out the very essence of technology- making everything accessible and optimizable...” - Hubert L Dreyfus, On the Internet
“ The Net has become my all-purpose medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind...It is the ‘perfect storm’ of information.” - Nicholas Carr, The Shallows
Organizing Information Online – Google Rises
1999 only hyperlinks, no vertical hierarchy. No order, no meaning? Pessimism about future
Google revolutionizes search – meaning, ranks results
Google: organize all information, make Net “a repository of all human knowledge.”
‘ Entryway’, but ALSO main advertising platform. Carr: “Google is in the business of distraction.”
The Promise of the Net
* The democratization, digitalization of info
Connectivity and collaboration
* Instant connection, global teams? Political and social organization; crisis management
Impatient, disjointed way of thinking, cognitive load too heavy? Superficial learning; delving deeper?
Less empathy/emotional depth because brain has no time to react and process. Numbness?
“ To be everywhere is to be nowhere” - Seneca
The End of Humanity as We Know it?
The Information-Knowledge-Wisdom link
* The process of ‘knowledge-making’ weakened, changed? No time to synthesize
* More information does not always equal more knowledge or better understanding
* “As we are drained of our inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance... we risk turning into pancake people, spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information.” - Richard Foreman
* Alienation from our physical reality, from life’s true meaning?
A New Humanity?
A virtual humanity?
* Virtual reality: Second Life; transcend body’s limits and life’s vulnerability. Next step in evolution or just utopia?
* Deeply philosophical question…“Isn’t facing the truth of life - its misery, pain and death - our highest duty?” – Dreyfus
* Hybrid reality: "I see human intelligence consuming machine intelligence, not the other way around… our intelligence is so interconnected with all the cells in our body.” – David Ferrucci, IBM Watson project
What Is at Stake?
Our self - essence as compassionate, committed and engaged humans
Our linear, ‘deep-thinking’ world: science, culture, philosophy- foundation of our civilization, yet new hybrid world emerging? Time of transition?
‘ Magic’ : “When things come to you while you're waiting it feels more like fate. Instant gratification feels unearned. That random song, perfectly attuned to your mood, seems more profound when heard on a car radio than if you had called up the same tune via YouTube.” - Foreman
Do Things Really Look That Bleak?
* Information growth and technological progress
* The Digital Generation - don’t know analogue world
* There’s a lot to love about it too…
But, lack of balance...
* Balance online stimulation with deep thought, nature, reality
Nothing is black and white
* Unprecedented challenge - adapt and yet stay true to ourselves? Return ‘texture’ while connecting to world
Help May Be On the Way...
Wired magazine: “The Web is dead” - customizable, on-demand consumption of info the future
Openness of Net (no one owns) vs. manageability of new web (where apps rule)
By 2020 almost all browsing mobile; changed experience of info consumption
Logic of the market deciding for us? Profits drive customization and targeted delivery of info to paying customers
What Can We Do?
All about awareness and self-critical approach
Also skills: info/Net literacy; time management skills; use of human/tech filters; create personalized map for info consumption online; apps might help?
Go out: importance of being ‘offline’: calmer, sharper, better memory; time to process
Meditate: better memory, more empathy, longer attention span, less stress > more grey matter in brain
Not about giving up online world, but REASSERTING CONTROL!