August 1 Information
I’m an information junkie. I’m not alone, even the OED has recently overhauled the definition, the story told to us by James Gleick.
“In their latest quarterly revision, December 2010, just posted, the entry for “information” is utterly overhauled. (The OED, in case you hadn’t noticed, has evolved into an enterprise of cyberspace, rather than a mere book.)
The renovation has turned a cottage into a palace. Information, n., now runs 9,400 words, the length of a novella. It is a sort of masterpiece—an adventure in cultural history. A century ago “information” did not have much resonance. It was a nothing word. “An item of training; an instruction.” Now (as people have been saying for fifty years) we are in the Information Age. Which, by the way, the OED defines for us in its dry-as-chili-powder prose: “the era in which the retrieval, management, and transmission of information, esp. by using computer technology, is a principal (commercial) activity.”
Information overload is quite real, and quite dangerous as it were. While we believe that immersing people in this pool of enlightenment holds great promise, we’ve found that exposure to ambiguous or mixed information can intensify opinions on a matter, not refine them. This presents what may prove to be the most significant challenge of our history, and the most exciting.
Today I am thankful
- that we live in interesting times.
- for access to information, all sorts, all times of day or night.
- for people who share and listen.