Saturday, December 22, 2007

"Pulling the Plug" (again)

Nice piece recently in Orion by Robert Michael Pyle -

He pulled his own plug, more or less. He still goes online a couple times a week, but not at home:

I know I am missing out on some wonderful exchanges and capabilities. But I already weep over all the indoor hours when I could actually be out, combing the moss for waterbears or contemplating the profound mystery of where people get the time to read blogs, for gods’ sakes—is it at the complete expense of books?

When we read the blogs, how much do we misread? And how much do we misrepresent ourselves when we write them? I recently had an unpleasant exchange with a friend in reaction to one of his blog posts, in part because the medium does not lend itself to nuance and in part because, it seemed to me, my friend was engaged in a sort of performance - not a genuine and sincere communication. He was busy constructing a persona, not engaging in a real conversation. It pissed me off, but in an instructive way. I blog, therefore I bloviate. We must all take care not to damage human relationships in the course of framing ourselves as clever and sophisticated cultural observers - an unintended but not unforeseeable consequence of this form of discourse. The electronic-human interface does not necessarily have to make us shallow persons. Blogging doesn't have to be superficial. But it sure can be.

Bill McKibben was prophetic about this, as about so much else. Our vaunted Information Age truly is an "Age of Missing Information." But rather than pull the plug in a literal way, I'm going to continue tasking myself each day to pull away from the keyboard and the email and the blogs in responsible moderation. Our evolutionary health and day-to-day sanity and civility really depend on our learning to do this. Accelerating Intelligence News