Yikes: in the age of information abundance – or is that information overload? – the megabyte has been replaced by the terabyte, the petabyte, the exabyte, the zettabyte and now the yottabyte, each a thousand times bigger than the last.
And I can still remember the kilobyte.
We are, so the argument goes, awash or even drowning in a sea of big data, but hang on, says Chad Wellmon in ‘Why Google isn’t making us stupid…or smart,’ in the Hedgehog Review. ‘We might,’ Wellmon suggests, ‘consider a perhaps simple but oftentimes overlooked fact: we access, use and engage information through technologies that help us select, filter and delimit. Web browsers, hyperlinks, blogs, online newspapers, computational algorithms, rss feeds, Facebook and Google help us turn all of those terabytes of data into something more useful and particular, that is, something that can be remade and repurposed by an embodied human person. These now ubiquitous technologies help us filter the essential from the excess and search for the needle in the haystack, and in so doing they have become central mediums for our experience of the world.’
A little historical reflection goes a long way, as Wellmon shows in his analysis of the links between the modern hyperlink and the good old footnote – one of which is the way both not only connect document to document, but also make an evaluation: what to link to and what not to link, what to footnote and what not to footnote.
Photo by Nikola Bilic courtesy of Dreamstime.com
Wellmon, C. (2012). Why Google isn’t making us stupid…or smart. The Hedgehog Review. 14(1).
Read ‘Why Google isn’t making us stupid…or smart’ here.
Should we be asking ‘Is Google making us stupid?’ or rather ‘Is Google making us, or are we making Google?’