Saturday, January 12, 2008

If a tree falls in a forest, and there's no blogger to post about it, does it make a sound?

If a tree falls in a forest, and there's no blogger to post about it, does it make a sound?

I seem to have developed a mania for storing information in an external "brain." The articles I read, I post to del.icio.us. The notes I take in meetings, or at events, I post to my wiki. The books I read go into the book outlines wiki.

It's getting to the point where I try to avoid reading publications that don't offer permalinkable content.

It seems to me that this activity is unprecendented in human history.

I'm sure that Plato didn't think to himself, "Boy, when I get home from this party, I'd better post my thoughts right away!"

Are we conditioning ourselves to move completely away from non-electronic media?

Are we training ourselves to think solely in arguments of 300 words or less?

Sometimes the ideas that come to me in the middle of the night (like this one) can be the most disquieting. I don't have an answer here; what do you think?

7 comments:

Presh said...

Chris, this is an interesting question. Electronic distribution helps everyone--its cheaper for publishers and more convenient for readers.

So here's my game theory take: it's a coordination issue, so we bloggers should make it very clear that we favor articles that can be accessed from the web. Publishers will take note, and readers will benefit too.

Presh Talwalkar

Koboi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike From Brooklyn said...

My take is that you are right about the acts of hunting and gathering information. Nothing beats electronics.

But, when it comes to thinking about information, when the primary behavior is to compare and contrast, to consider carefully how a word is used and decide whether it really captures what you are trying to communicate, then nothing beats a book.

Once you hunt and gather on the web then output in a book format that fits in your pocket...now that's a paradigm shift that pays really big dividends, by helping to make people better at thinking.

alice said...

Books make a brilliant adjunct to electronic information- I like buying them on Amazon, blogging about them, and storing information about them on my bookshelf app. on facebook.

They're not in competition with electronic info- the stuff all fits together in different ways.

gregory said...

we are on the way to having no thoughts at all, functioning from pure intuition in all things

doubt it? thoughts are way after the fact of decisions, says, current neuroscience

Anonymous said...

I came to your blog through Penelope's, as your comment intrigued me. Now I see that the entry I'm moved to post a comment on is probably not one you spent a lot of thought on before writing (as Penelope was discussing), but I see that it already has five other comments.

Anyway, I was intrigued by your question of whether we are starting to think in terms of 300-word posts. Actually, it's probably training us to think better, and get our main points across more quickly, rather than rambling on and boring our audience.

As to the audience, I think most people have always had shorter attention spans, and those people who would read a long piece always have been a significant minority. It's the same difference between a scholarly book and a trade book. Only other scholars, or a very few people with a highly specialized interest will pick up a scholarly book and read it from cover to cover. But most people are able to read a trade book from cover to cover. I think most blogs are aimed at the same group that would pick up a trade book.

So i think the mediums and writing styles are shifting, but I don't think that people are losing the ability to think at all.

Eileen
Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas (in the Middle East)
elementaryteacher.wordpress.com

Chris said...

Eileen,

Inasmuch as blogging teaches more people to think of themselves as writers, I think the influence is largely positive.

One great thing about blogging is the way that everyone feels like they can do it.

It's mathematically certain that in a mass phenomena such as blogging, many of the participants are probably still poor writers, but at least they're actually writing!

The act of composing one's thoughts seems like it's inherently a good thing. Bloggers rarely live unexamined lives.