A fable for our time – information addiction

A big thanks to Kieran Nash for allowing me to post this. Kieran is in my grad class, Journalism Theory and Practice. We run a discussion board where students post a commentary each week that they can all respond to. Kieran posted this a couple of days ago.

The internet is a wonderful world of information, available (to use a cliché) at our fingertips.

It has become entrenched in society, especially over the last ten years, creating what I think is an “information addiction.” Now, when sitting round drinking and chatting (in real life), I like to have a computer at hand so any hotly contested point or topic can be verified.

Your friend arguing with you about something they know nothing about? In a few seconds Wikipedia can prove that bastard wrong. Talking about a new craze? Youtube can show everyone what you mean.

Everyone is checking Facebook daily to gather any snippet of information about their friends, whether they care or not. Viral marketing has now become a common water-cooler topic. An Intel survey recently asked what people would rather go without for two weeks – internet or sex? A staggering 46 percent of women and 30 percent of men would rather check their email.

This information addiction differs from all other addictions – apart from a monthly set fee, it’s free.

addiction

And who are the providers of information?

Well, the beauty of the internet is that anyone can be an information provider. However, it is also the beast.

Say information is a drug. Let’s call it “info”. You love the stuff, and are always looking for the best – sometimes it comes almost 100 per cent pure.

When you first started getting into info, you had to pay, but damn it was good! You would wake up, get your hit of info, got to work, and when you came home, you could unwind with some more info – there were a few different ways you could take it.

But about ten years ago, a new kind of info came on the market. It was a more crystallised version, a lot dirtier, and a mixture of all the old types of info. Let’s call it e-info.

People who used to deal info saw how popular the new e-info was getting. Seeing as they had made a killing off the old stuff, they decided to give the new stuff away for free and then figure out a way to make people pay for it later.

What they didn’t see was that anyone can deal e-info. Before long, everyone was dealing, and not the good shit. They would just wrap any old thing up and say it was 100 per cent pure. What’s more, most people didn’t seem to care how pure it was – it was free.

Another thing that got the old-time dealers mad was, people would get the pure info off them and then give it to their mates – free! They thought this was unfair, seeing as they put so much time and money into making the best shit they could.

Now the young people who have grown up with e-info can’t tell the difference between what they have and what their parents used to have. They laugh when the old timer says: “Well son, it was a lot stronger in my day.”  Sure, there are few youngsters that get into the old stuff, but they’re the hip retroist minority.

The old time dealers are wondering why they didn’t charge for this new drug when only a few people were doing it. They want to change people’s minds so they can afford to make pure info that will take people to the old highs, but the youngsters have never lived in a world where info was a privilege and not something to be taken for granted.

Well, the old timers say, those times are about to change.

Cheers Kieran, a nice take on the problem that the old info-dealers are struggling with today: How to recapture the mass market they used to have.

We’ve already seen some old-school dealers close up shop, or try to move into the free e-info market and get their usual suppliers (advertisers) to continue paying.

3 Responses to A fable for our time – information addiction

  1. Medusa says:

    Makes for great reading, clever analogy and so true. Nice job, student and teacher!

  2. barry says:

    yeah, except that the old timers don’t tell you half the time they packaged up a dog turd and sold it as pure info, and cause they were the only ones dealing, no-one could tell the difference.

    and then the young dealers came along, sniffed the info and said, heeeeeey, that’s dogshit! Here’s some better stuff.

    And the people buying looked at what the old guy was selling, and what the new guy was selling, and went, huh. I don’t really like the taste of dogshit. Let’s go with the new guy.

  3. Billy says:

    It just seems like the perfect way to describe the net.

    And you don’t know how true your words are.

    They who control the data………….. Mr Martini?

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