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Information as a thing, endlessly growing

At this point in time, the volume of information being churned out in the world is presumably staggering? On top of “what already exists” in terms of facts, ideas, stories and perspectives – the ready availability of all that’s been saved from humanity’s past – the amount being added to that each year, day or moment might be quite interesting to know.

As opposed to the limited scope of libraries or bookshops even a hundred years ago, the sense of what we now have at our fingertips is amazing to contemplate. Surely humans have, on the whole, never been so well-informed? We’ve never been able to answer questions so quickly or indulge our interests this readily.

It’s something fought long and hard for: quests for understanding and exploration, then for the freedom to interpret the outcomes for ourselves, stand as this pinnacle of human endeavour in many respects. In various ways, people literally sacrificed their lives in the pursuit of knowledge. Understanding of the world around us wasn’t something simply placed in human hands (Notes One).

But then, it just keeps growing. Compared with the volume of information that exists for each year of the more distant past, we’re adding so much more for recent years. Every day so many people add to the mass of “information” existing in the world, which we’re all then having to wade through, navigate and, most often, tune out in order to operate sensibly.

Are our personal thoughts, feelings and experiences “now” that much more valuable than information we hold on life in ancient times? What value are we adding to the conversation of humanity through all of the contributions we’re now making? It’s surely disproportionate, the volume and significance of what we can know of the past in comparison to the present.

Of course, that’s not entirely fair, as much of what I’m talking about is personal and social communications pushed into the public sphere. It’s so much easier now to express our views and we’re also actively being encouraged to share them this way, to weigh in on topics and events as part of the global conversation technology’s facilitating.

It’s just that “all this” must risk drowning out the past? Compared with the nature of present-day interests and revelations, the past might seem a dry, dreary, alien place we struggle to relate to. Does the tone of modern content and its historical reinterpretations risk overwhelming the subtle voices of the past with their powerful messages and convictions?

Not just the past, either – anything important yet understated. In a world where everyone’s demanding attention through images, shock-value, novelty, strategy or persistence, what if the truth is being spoken quietly? (Notes Two)

What if we’re churning out more and more emotive content, filling everyone’s hearts and minds to capacity, desensitising humanity to the value of information and the sense of what matters? And what if, behind the blaring horn of all these “because we can” contributions, we’re actually drowning out messages we really should be heeding?

Notes and References:

Note 1: Ideas that tie things together
Note 1: Freedom, what to lean on & who to believe
Note 1: Meaning within it all
Note 1: Writings on Education
Note 1: Caught in these thoughts
Note 2: Desensitised to all we’re told?
Note 2: Will novelty every wear off?
Note 2: Value in being informed
Note 2: How important is real life?
Note 2: Do we know what we’re doing?

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