The appeal of limits

The Internet version of knowledge. Photo by Dotty Finlow

In a world of effectively infinite information, extraordinary value is to be found in folks who can tell us how much we need to know or how much information we need to produce. When exactly do you know a message has been conveyed? Guess it depends on the goal of the communication. But isn’t all output information function a bit like an invading army? Its mission is to take control of the thoughtzones it attacks and displace weaker bits and bytes. In a world of limited time, communication is competition. Nothing has changed about time, but our technology has leapt into roving Mars and reporting on it in 140-character messages. The game has grown more intense. We used to have experts, knowledge, authorities. We use to have comfortably identifiable ends to the process of acquiring new data about our environment. It seems those were illusions generated by the limits of former technology (read Too Big to Know). Now we have streams. And that presents a new problem: it’s not so much about knowing something, it’s about figuring out if you know something to a level appropriate to the task at hand. In other words, we need constant meta-information about our information. And chit-chat isn’t a one-way street, not anymore. Now we need to also know more about who’s receiving our data assault. How much time do they have? Where are they? Why are they reading this? The Internet does this. Infovores filter, rewrite, redistribute, make it funny, cut it up, make it more relevant to their own concerns. This is nothing new. Just the tools. It’s faster, further, sustained and ongoing. But this is the same: it’s messy. Fling, fling, splat, spatter: do I see truth? Forget that, do I have a node upon which I can pivot? Patterns!  They do eventually emerge from the pasta sauce flung against the wall. Yet is there a pattern to the pattern-making? I hope so. Should have written this on 280daily.  I would have been done sentences ago.

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