A better question: where can’t you? Cell phones in our pockets and laptops in our backpacks and satellites above our heads inform our mations so quickly that it’s absurd.
And besides, don’t you know that the ‘I’ in ‘internet’ stands for Information? And that the ‘N’ stands for kNowledge?
A friend told me he’s taking an information diet. I nodded and said wow that’s fantastic. But it’s also absurd. Not personally absurd, but culturally absurd.
Personally, it’s a great idea. Consume less content, become more mindful and appreciative of the content you consume.
Culturally, it’s a sign of the times. We have so much information and so much access to it that now we’re trying to run away from it. Or are we? Is it information we’re running away from, or a specific kind of information we’re after?
Later in our talk he told me that I’m the context from which he’ll remember a quote from my favorite philosopher. Flattering. But again, I’m reminded of the absurdity of information abundance.
Information is like purple. Hundreds of years ago, purple was a sign of luxury. Only noblemen could wear purple. (It’s why there’s so few purple flags). Eventually we discovered how to make purple at scale. Now everyone’s favorite color is purple. And the luxuriousness of purple never went away. The idea of luxury is so ingrained in purple that we can’t separate purple from its extravagant valence.
I think the same is true of information. We have so much information that we don’t know what to do with it. And because we care so much about appearances, information is now a fashion statement.
But fashion is only one context. Context – pretext – the why behind the seeking, these things matter. For some knowledge workers and wisdom seekers, aesthetic contexts are all that matter. For them, wisdom is displayed. Pointed to. Showed off. Learning is a vanity, a luxury good, a commodity. But for others, like my friend, they seek out an experiential context. The quote stuck in my friends head because it came to him in a conversation – something organic, something alive.
Knowledge is alive. Knowledge can’t be just a trophy because a trophy is nothing more than a reminder of the past. But wait! What do you have to show for your effort if you get rid of the trophy! – Ah, but there’s the trap: effort wanting to validate itself.