The internet is an amazing invention born out of the minds of millions of people. It’s an pattern of our collective minds. When I was a Large Scale Information Space Research Engineer, we found the internet is strewn with all kinds of off topic information intended to draw us to websites. In creating a topically constrained information space for Harley Davidson, we found it interlaced with pornography. It was easy to get off track when searching for a particular bike. Think of the magazines like Easyriders and Lowrider and you can relate to why the Harley and porn information spaces have a high degree of inter-relate-ability. In fact the early internet advertising took much of its technology from the porn providers as their whole business was to draw surfers in to check things out and empty their wallets for a handful of pleasure. This should not be a surprise as our evolutionary background has a lot of “programming” that relates to sexual information for the simple reason that it proliferates our genes. From a species perspective, there’s intrinsic value in sexuality.
Like the information space for Harley Davidson with both on topic and off topic subject matter, our information technology is a double-edged sword. We have readily available information that has the potential to make life easier but it creates mental clutter to the point of reducing our situation awareness. It both makes it easier to connect with others while cutting us off from contact. We can connect through Facebook, Twitter or other social media while isolating ourselves in our homes or apartments. We can know what’s going on without ever leaving our room to say hello to someone. There is a great YouTube video entitled “Look Up” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY) that had at that time 43 million views in mid-2014. It highlights the doubled edged nature of our information technology. It follows a person who missed an opportunity to find the love of his life because he was too busy paying attention to his phone. It is to our advantage to approach all technology with caution and take responsibility for understanding what impact it has on our lives. Our time is an investment. It is up to us to know our potential returns and manage the values and risks associated with our investments.
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