Odyssey Online

Reading or Absorbing

April 21, 2010 · No Comments

Atlantic Magazine has an ongoing online series called What I Read, and the most recent contributor is Washington Post journalist David Corn. His essay is about information overload, about the sheer volume that some who is “information business” finds via Twitter and RSS.  I’m going to kind of ruin the essay (although you should read it, it’s short and very well written),  but the last line of the essay is so dead-on that it’s worth quoting: “I do miss reading. Nowadays, we absorb.”

It raises the question of how we use technology, or, better still, how we position technology. Mr. Corn could read books, he acknowledges, but doesn’t. People can coexist with networked information technology in an infinite number of ways, and ways very much divorced from the banter about “revolution” that the purveyors of said technology insist is happening.  John Freeman’s book the Tyranny of E-Mail provides an interesting model about how to position e-mail within the context of a life.  Also, when can settle accounts with the word revolution.  Technology doesn’t cause revolutions, nor does it enable them.  Revolutions are moments in either the history of a people or a person when an epiphany infused with either anger or joy that causes a dramatic change.  It causes curiosity to incite action. Social unrest brings revolutions, significant others bring revolutions, computers don’t.  In the history of commerce any number of products have caused a lot of people to alter their behavior one way or the other…but that doesn’t  a revolution make…think about that the next time the television tells you “There’s an app for that…”

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