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Information talk slides february2011 1-final

Information talk slides february2011 1-final






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  • Comfortable with the speed of my English or the words I use- if not, raise your hand and don’t hesitate to ask. Start by explaining title- decode words/concepts- internet, information overload, twitter- and the big question- what it means to be human. Won’t try to answer these conclusively; I am not a psychologist, technician or philosopher but I work in an area, information management, where questions surrounding these concepts are important. It’s also a personal journey into a world of information and knowledge that seems more and more confusing and exhausting by the day. Quest became much more philosophical than I thought it would. But it also has real practical depth because its something that most of us struggle with on a daily basis.
  • WWW: to host and connect individual web pages. Free and open medium. Usage doubling every year--- or even more- some areas grow even faster than others 12 hours a week of net, but has not replaced TV- so we’re spending more and more time in front of screens. Teens more than 32 hours a week in 2009! Exabyte is 2 to the power of 60 (1000 petabytes, 1000 x 1000 terabytes) , typed text about 2 Kilobytes Equivalent of trillions of magazines flowing through Net. 57 percent of Internet users in developing countries, growth fastest there as well, nearly 860 million in Asia-Pacific
  • Google makes more money the more we click. Google Book Search- digitizing all books (copyright issue here a whole different story), Google Art project (latest), Google Earth Find relevance and connections- this is what the ISN does in IR field.
  • The democratization of information- from books to a global database of human knowledge. Google Project- organizing all human knowledge online.
  • Facebook- started as a connector for college students- meeting new people made easier. I joined when a few members in 2005. Wrote about it 1 year ago- then 200 million members. Added 150 million members since January. OBSESSIVE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS- before you go to bed, as soon as you wake. Social media VERY YOUNG- all these success stories are less than 6 years old, some just a year old. Rate of growth in this market is incredibly fast once an idea is considered good by masses. Wikipedia- more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • You can follow Obama, Medvedev, Britney Spears, the Vatican, Coca Cola, you name it. Analysis of trends; important topics being discussed. But still not enough to find the relevant stuff; the information that really matters? CAN BE USEFUL AS WELL THOUGH- we use Twitter at work to share interesting articles, stories- keep each other up to date. Record: 6,000 tweets per second over New Years in Japan= 518 million tweets within 24 hours
  • IN THIS WORLD... EVERYBODY IS A CREATOR. Everybody can make and upload a Youtube video of their friend‘s cat. Or themselves singing. EVERYBODY IS AN EXPERT- comment anonymously, fake expertise. Can easily make outlandish statements, no accountability in anonymous world. Virals- example of Antoine Dodson- literally celebrity overnight; now millions of views on Youtube, from poor projects in Alabama, interviewed on TV because of an attack on his sister. He became an overnight sensation- iTunes, wikipedia article, Youtube etc… BUT THE NONSENSE IS ENTERTAINING!
  • Anxious- getting medial ‚second opinions‘ online, for example.
  • How much money does multitasking cost us? Memory as an intricate part of our brain’s functioning and our intelligence. Memory is organic, nuanced, complex. Not 1-1 with computer memory. “ Our brains become adept at forgetting, inept at remembering.” Shallow minds?
  • Turns out, I am a TERRIBLE multitasker--- much slower in reactions, did NYT test. Multitasking- lost time estimated to cost US economy more than 600 billion dollars a year.
  • Addiction- neurological addiction because stimulation provokes excitement- a dopamine squirt– ADDICTIVE and if we don‘t get it, we get bored (NYT). We become overwhelmed! Big part of lives online--- ‚online lives‘
  • Information Overload, Information Anxiety, Information Fatigue- whatever you want to call it.
  • Focus on information, but should we be paying attention to the technology itself? Nora Volkow: a leading brain scientist, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse Marshall McLuhan: the medium is the message, 1964 IS THE NET BECOMING OUR MASTER?
  • How difficult is it to get our brains to really go offline when neural circuits have been rewired to seek out instant gratification and stimulaiton.
  • End of deep reading- studies continue to show that reading linear text (without links) allows you to remember more. Seneca- Roman Philosopher NUMB: We just dismiss important information- we simply cannot process it- ignore issues/situations that might elicit a much more empathetic response under less stressful circumstances. Info has no time to sink in, never reaches part of our brains that process painful, uncomfortable information and makes us react emotionally.
  • Richard Foreman- playwright, experiment of living without Net for 4 months? Dreyfus: The Net is not neutral, it diminishes our involvement in the physical and social world.
  • Plato- pure minds- highest duty to cultivate this. Nietzsche- embrace our emotional, vulnerable bodies, master it by accepting it!
  • Cheap supercomputers are on the way- by mid-21st Century computers that will cost a thousand dollars but will have the processing capacity of all our human brains combined.
  • Openness and neutrality- the Net is open to all, no one owns it. Applications for iPhones are controlled and paid for. But, by 2020 most will access the Net over phone. Back to nature- proven to improve cognitive abilities- we’re calmer and sharper even after a short stroll in the forest. Neuroscientists and psychologists becoming more interested in the balancing act between the stressful online world and the calm that nature gives us. To a degree these developments are out of our hands. But we can REASSERT CONTROL. Be more aware, more disciplined; take what we can out of these technologies, but don’t let it control us.

Information talk slides february2011 1-final Information talk slides february2011 1-final Presentation 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
    • Free information
    • * The democratization, digitalization of info
    • Connectivity and collaboration
    • * Instant connection, global teams? Political and social organization; crisis management
    • Productivity
    • * Unprecedented advances
    • Openness/Transparency/Accountability
    • * WikiLeaks world? Strengthened civil society, ‘Jasmine revolution’
  • Enter Web 2.0
    • Interactive web only since 5-6 years
    • Blogs >200 million blogs
    • Facebook > 500 million members, most visited site, 3rd biggest ‘country’
    • Youtube > 2 billion videos a day
    • Foursquare > 6 million users
    • Wikipedia > 13 million articles in 200 languages
  • Twitter, Tweets and ‘Useless Information’
    • Since 2006, >190 million accounts
    • > 130 million tweets a day
    • ‘ Personal broadcasting’, vital for marketing, public relations, political organization
    • Original concept: "short burst of inconsequential information” - Jack Dorsey, Chairman
    • Important or ‘tsunami of nonsense’?
  • User-Generated Content, User-Generated Pain?
    • Everybody is a creator
    • Everybody is an expert
    • Everybody has an opinion
    • “ The Cult of the Amateur”- ordinary people become ‘stars’ and figures of authority. Wisdom of the crowd = culture?
    • Accountability, responsibility in this world?
    • New maze to find your way through?
  • What Does Information Do To Us Online?
    • Early studies: unhappy, less connected, anxious, jaded
    • Today everything online: meet people, talk to friends and family, shop, plan holidays, read, express ourselves...
    • Making life more independent and convenient, but...
    • Technology always has unintended consequences, can we afford to ignore this?
  • What’s the Problem?
    • Distraction
    • * “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” - Carr
    • * “Staccato thinking and chronic skimming.” - Bruce Friedman
    • Stress
    • * Information - everywhere, all the time... “Orchestra without a conductor”?
    • Forgetting
    • * Technology remembers for us. What are we without ‘organic’ memories/ability to memorize? Fuzzy humans?
  • ... And More Problems...
    • Loss of productivity
    • * Human ping pong balls? Interruptions eat 28% working time
    • * “Computer users at work change windows or check e-mail or other programs nearly 37 times an hour.” - NYT
    • * Multitasking costs and we tend to suck at it!
    • * Impact on intelligence: e-mail vs. marijuana in IQ test
    • Loss of creativity, innovation
    • * Loss of deep thinking and slow, organic creativity
    • Loss of practical wisdom
    • * Need to live, experience world in physical sense to really ‘know’
    • * “Man can embody the truth, but he cannot know it.” – Yeats
  • ...And Even More!
    • Confusion
    • * What is real/valuable on web? Loss of significance in a “cloud of anonymous speculation.” - Kierkegaard
    • Frustration
    • * Information growth exponential, ability to absorb the same
    • Addiction
    • * Multi-sensory - gateway to the world
    • * Endless possibilities, stimulation for brain; addictive, bored without?
    • * ‘Online ego ’ to maintain (in addition to offline one!)
  • As a Result...
    • Information Overload - Brains are not computers, limited working memory, complex cognitive processes
    • “ We are exposing our brains to an environment and asking them to do things we weren’t necessarily evolved to do... there are consequences.” – Adam Gazzaley
    • But maybe brains are adapting? Building collective brain online? Infinite Internet Intelligence?
  • The Medium Matters
    • YES
    • “ Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.” - Nietzsche
    • “ The technology is rewiring our brains.” - Nora Volkow
    • “ Illusion of control...Technology is more than a tool, it’s a way of life.” - Carr
    • NO
    • “ Technology is technology... It is a means of communication... Nothing more.” - James Carey
  • Are our Brains Eroding?
    • Lives and thinking from linear to networked
    • Neuroplasticity - brain it is not piece of hardware
    • “ Plasticity is the normal ongoing state of the nervous system...” - Alvaro Pasqual-Leone, Harvard Medical School
    • UCLA study: new neural pathways created by use of Net. Bad habits maintained ‘offline’; seeking instant gratification and stimulation online AND offline
  • Are We Eroding?
    • More connected, better informed, make decisions faster, visual-spatial skills improving
    • Richer experience with info and media
    • Study: ‘Generation Net’ kids read - no longer left-right; skim, scan instead. F-shaped reading pattern online
    • 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
    • Culture
    • * “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
    • * 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?
    • It’s inevitable
    • * 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!