Well, I finished The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (ironically on audio-book rather than print) , which poses the idea that we are losing our ability to concentrate and read deeply for extended periods. We skim, jump from link to link, and multi-task. The Internet has made us infovores. I am in total agreement. As a librarian, I have witnessed the change. As a human being, I have experienced it.
Because my profession is “information provider”, my appetite for information is both personal AND professional. I have witnessed the concept of a traditional school library dissolve around me and (because I am perseverent and love a challenge) I have adapted. I am digitally fit- I blog, I wiki, I RSS, I understand user-generated content, I stay up late at night to try to keep up! But I admit that I can’t and I believe that no one can.
So…I googled the word infovore (as well as checked the citation from The Shallows) and was led to an interesting title: The Age of the Infovore by Tyler Cowen. Google even provided me with the table of contents and intriguing exerpts. Googling the word infovore also led me to a blog, written by a young game designer (hey- cool blog title!). I found myself ravenous. I wanted to jump on what the game designer had to say about virtual worlds- my research topic. My hunt, as a hungry infovore, led me to another blog, written by another young gamer (intellectuals I must add), on which the first young gamer replied to a post. Oh…I am now on the prowl, indeed. The post deals with gaming and discusses the importance of design and the sense of playfulness.
I have been struggling lately with the triviality of social media and the lack of meaningful purpose for so much online content we encounter. These two blogs remind me that we initially learn, as children, through play. We truly learn best and communicate best when we are passionate about something.
As I look to the future, I am torn between two opposing forces- darkness and light, loss and gain, fear and hope. I respect the warning of the intelligent authors and futurists who warn us not to embrace technology to the point of losing our humanity. I also respect the miraculous ability of the human brain to learn and to adapt, along with the unbelievable quality of the human heart to truly care about something. I continue to put all my eggs in the basket of light and hope. Hey, I am only a temporary traveler on this planet like all those who came before me. Maybe I am just born easy-going. I am willing to be a carnivore or a herbivore or an infovore. Whatever it takes to survive.