Saturday, July 14, 2012

Too Much Information

Dynamic Remodeling of Dendritic Arbors in GABAergic Interneurons of Adult Visual Cortex Wei-Chung Allen Lee, Hayden Huang, Guoping Feng, Joshua R. Sanes, Emery N. Brown, Peter T. So, Elly Nedivi PLoS Biology Vol. 4, No. 2, e29 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040029
I'm convinced it's all a ploy. A ploy to suck us into a vortex of lassitude through utter, all-encompassing distraction. We're talking about a conspiracy, alright. It's a grand plan to capture each and every one of us into a matrix-like web of unending visual, aural and tactile stimulation where interactivity is required lest we're voted off the island.

I'm writing this when it's fall in the northeast and snow is predicted in my area this weekend. It's iffy, but it may happen. The trees have more or less begun their big fall wrap-up, leaving mountains of detritus for me to clean up. But it's cold today and it rained heavily last night, so the leaves are cold and wet and I don't feel like being cold and wet which is what I would be if I had to blow, scrape and bag a thousand pounds of tree-skin. So, instead, I have committed myself to my toasty-warm office, with the fireplace blaring incandescence and every mode of media surrounding me in a cocoon of pseudo-connectedness.

Let me take an inventory: smart-phone, excellent for checking personal e-mail and texting my kid, since I just about never use it as a phone; iPod Touch, okay, for Netflix, eBay updates, Huffington Post and Stitcher; two desktop computers, right, a PC and a Mac I'm working on with my laptop also nearby, since that's my "real" working machine and naturally, anything I can do in terms of information retreival or entertainment is accessible through those tools, including streaming radio from  my favourite station, WNYC (yes, I support NPR and so should you). My Internet service is via cable at the maximum available speed and bandwidth, so I can stream music, view a movie via Netflix, Google until my brain falls out and never run out of capacity. And, yes, I often do all three at the same time. I watch a lot of French movies, okay? To my left, just at the edge of my visual periphery is my HD cable connection  with, it seems, a quarter of a thousand channels that I never watch since it's usually tuned, when I have it on, to Bloomberg with the sound off and captioning on. To my right is a bunch of recording gear, my guitars and amp and miscellaneous vintage effects. I also have a fax machine, police scanner, some video gear, my photo gear, two vintage cameras I'm about to restore, the original Sony Discman with FM receiver, just because it's irrelevant, a bunch of books, a bunch of DVDs, about a thousand CDs, a half dozen reel-to-reel master tapes, a passel of video tapes and DAT masters that I've been meaning to convert before the oxide falls off the plastic backing of the tape and a hammer. I also have satellite radio for the car but don't have it activated currently because, well, that would be too much.

When I am mobile, I carry in my jacket pocket, or in my man-bag, my iPod Touch and my smart phone, a video-capable Nikon D90 with two lenses, a variety of cables to power stuff and transfer stuff, extra battery for the camera, just in case I see something interesting, a fold-able multi-tool, my wallet, keys and a nail file. And plastic bags. I have a thing for plastic bags.

So, I'm an uber-connected, ultra-mediafied creative geek, right? Wrong. I am a content consumer, just like you. It's why seven TV channels aren't enough anymore and why I can DVR the 2,216 episodes of Law and Order:SVU that I apparently missed while watching the super-marathon of The Dog Whisperer, getting the news ticker via Bloomberg as I Stumble and then Tweet those Stumbles as I re-order both my streaming and DVD Netflix queues while texting my daughter, just trying to get her interest, during my composition of what seems to be the world's most convoluted pleading as Diane Rehm masterfully interviews yet another news-worthy guest. Isn't that what you're doing?

Oh, then there's the mail. I get a lot of mail. I hate mail. It's not searchable. I have to handle it over and over - opening, sorting, digesting, filing, scanning, copying, marking, filing again. I have another connected device, a Neato scanner that's the size of a box of Saran wrap, that does scanning duty and for legal documents of more than a few pages, I fight with my auto-document-feeding scanner, which is old and fussy. Except for legal business, the crap piles high by the end of the week. I'm not lazy, just overwhelmed.

So, there's lots of input to keep me and all the rest of you highly stimulated and more importantly, distracted. Look up - your economy is gone, off to India and China. Crap - there goes your job. Holy cow, there goes your wife. But, really, who cares when there's 3D HD on BluRay in your mailbox. Am I right?

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