First, a disclaimer. Is it a disclaimer, warning, note, footnote, warning, or just an announcement?
I think this is just an announcement: I no longer surf the net.
I harvest information.
I've always been an information harvester. I just didn't know it. That came to me as walked today and thought about domed cities, weather control, water harvesting, and thought harvesting. My mind follows the course of less resistance. I was in the military, you know.
Those in business and charities, (and probably many others outside those realms in the current spread the knowledge digital universe) are familiar with data mining. Information harvesting is similar but different. In data mining and information harvesting, you're presented with lots of stuff and you chart it to learn telling clues, patterns, trends and anomalies. Data miners then present the information to marketing, advertising, politicians, and decision making mechanisms interested in swaying how people think, project future events and make predictions. Information harvesters are just trying to figure out what's going on. Google and their analytics, along with other business intelligence organizations, track and harvest what the information harvesters are doing, in order to better serve, uh, somebody, somewhere.
Some claim that Internet reading is re-mapping our minds. I don't know who the some are but I've read articles about it, or skimmed the articles to see if I want to read them more deeply. As a newspaper reader, I've tried transferring m newspaper reading pattern to my net information harvesting. But newspapers and the web aren't the same. Web pages will tell you the most commented, read, and emailed artile. Yahoo tells you "what's trending". Blogs track and ask, "What's the most WTF article you've read on the Internet?"
Reading the newspaper, though, is more social. Like, with my wife. We buy a paper and spread out the sections, dividing who gets to read what first - living, entertainment, book reviews, comics, puzzles, local news, national news, obituaries, police logs, sports pages, movie reviews. Newspapers' compositions vary. Each claim their initial interests and leave the rest in the middle. You open the pages, fold and refold, turn and return, following stories and headlings. As you finish a section, you feed it to a center pile of discards, and when your pile of sections are gone, you look at the two center piles to see where you next want to harvest.
As you read, you gasp and exclaim, "I don't believe it." She does the same. Sometimes you lower the paper and you look at the other and ask, "What is it?" A laugh out loud will do the same. Sometimes you read something exciting and say, "Listen to this," or, "Let me read this to you."
We used to do that every Sunday morning - croissants with fruit, coffee, yogurt and the paper. It was a little social event.
Now we each have our laptop. She has sleepy problems so she's rarely up as early as me. Sundays, I get up, clean up, feed the cats and leave on a walk, notebook in hand to go write. Writing is my requirement, and it i solitary. Besides that, she canceled our newspapers. She's a frugal environmentalist and reckons we do everything on the web. While true, we've hastened the death of a social component of our lives.
We still try to recapture it. Sometimes we'll walk to a coffee shop, go in and check the bin of discarded newspapers to see what can be harvested. She's always alert for coupons.
But the discard pile rarely has news of use. We pick through the section like it's the Thanksgiving leftovers after two days. The only thing that gets us excited is when someone has left a Book Review section behind. That's like gold.
Most times when we walk to the coffee shop, though, we carry books to read. We don't want to harvest net information. We do that all the time, sitting and staring at screens, guiding our cursors with our fingers and hands. There's no sections to thumb through. We do sometimes say, "Listen to this," but it's more often, "Did you read about?" And we usually have, alerted on the computer through the many outlets.
The web and the newspapers are the same in that I have my favorites, and go to specific sections. I look to see what's trending, the most read, the most emailed, and I check columnists. Then I go to blogs to see what's being said. Sometimes there's a flurry of soft clicking but I don't need to fold the pages or claim sections, and my hands are cleaner afterward.
I don't know if my brain has changed, but my life has changed, starting with Sunday morning.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com