Married & Moving & Seeking Employment:January 2005

Too Much Of a Good Thing? BZZZZZT!

Three bloggers I regularly read, Andy Baio, Matt Haughey, and Jason Kottke, all linked to this: Too much of a good thing?.

The central thesis of this blog entry is there is so much good stuff in the world and it’s depressing not to get to it, and maddening to not get to it.

I agree with this thesis, but the problem is the entry makes it seem as though this is a new and unique problem.

The idea seems to be that with digital acquisition the problem gets magnified and makes the problem unique. Wrong. Libraries present the exact same challenge.

I remember as a kid going into the library and being wowed by the number of books there. I further remember, as a teen, working in San Diego’s big Central Branch library and being even more wowed by my options. Big art books, biographies, more science fiction than I could ever imagine reading, rolls and rolls of old newspapers, magazines bound together forming (literally) tons of potential reading and viewing material. That’s one library. And I’m not even mentioning all the record albums, CDs, cassette tapes, books on tape.

Many libraries now lend out DVDs and VHS movies as well. More and more content, and also still free in the service of the public good.

So many books, so little time, right? Well, sure. But instead of looking at this as a problem, think of it as an opportunity to make choices. In making our choices we define our lives, we define the time we spend. We are making our own culture, for ourselves. If all we’re doing is rushing through what we read and look at, what kind of enjoyment do we get out of those things? How do we let that culture inform our lives?

I would argue that taking your time with the media you consume serves your self-interest more than trying to make sure you acquire each and every digital product out there and never getting to them.

Take the time to stop and the smell the roses, eh? A hoary cliché, to be sure, but good advice.

three comments so far...

If not being able to keep up with looking at digital photos or listening to records is a problem, it may be time to get a job / life.

“Take the time to stop and the smell the roses, eh?” Shouln’t that have been summarized as “stop and smell the rose”? Libraries mainly consist of text and images. Look at Bittorrent and Netflix, DVR and VOD. We have not only more information now but we have that information in different formats and it’s all instantly accessible.

The volume in a library in terms of density of information in novels and books and periodicals, not to mention video materials, easily matches what’s on BitTorrent.

However, most of it is older material. If anything, the materials you mention have a more salient difference — their newness — which beats libraries. And perhaps leads to compulsive downloading of them.

Maybe the problem isn’t the amount of information — it’s the amount of *new* information people seek out and have to work for, rather than a leisurely walk through a library, it’s a manic race to get the latest download of whatever is in vogue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.