Sometime back, I read an extremely interesting post by Chris Messina – how we’re now hit by a plethora of data and information on the real time web, which our brains have not adapted to, and how, in order to process this, we’d require an augmentation of our existing abilities.
The information overload has been happening for a little while now. Between reading blogs, writing them, microblogging, Facebook and all the shiny little tools that keep coming up, it’s a constant juggling act. I’ve been on Twitter for over a couple of years now. I can see a drastic change in the relationships there already, as compared to the banter of the initial days. New people, new thoughts, old people who’re changing with time, old thoughts recycled. A simple @ tag connects lives. Meanwhile, its not just relationships and thoughts that change, but also behaviour – the need to share an experience, attention deficit, and so on. These would obviously vary with an individual’s usage of Twitter, facebook etc, but I’m sure there are more like me.
While I’ve been dimly conscious of the vastness of the Twitterverse, I had a more tangible realisation only after i came across a tool (from an article shared by Shefaly). As I sat watching the pictures streaming across the screen on Twitcaps, I felt I was somehow connected to all of them across the world sharing images – from parties to churches to landscapes to death to raunchy stuff to coffee mugs and so many many other things. There are multiple images being shared every second, and I had an acute realisation of the magnitude of change happening, in terms of connectedness and sharing. The population of the world, the population of your own city, the number of people working in your office/living in the apartment complex- as the numbers come down, the people slowly change from a blurred intangibility to a focused person. But as we get more and more networked, the number of persons who become tangible are increasing, the arguments about their relative importance to self notwithstanding. As Chris says in the article, can human beings cope after a point?
Sometime earlier this year, I remember writing a post about speciation – the evolution of the human species, and how replacement of body parts and advancement might finally end up in a being that may not match our current concept of human, or even living, like the Cybermen in Dr.Who. In that post, I had also mentioned Homo Evolutis, one of whose characteristics was networked intelligence.
As the information deluge gathers momentum, there may be those who choose not to be part of it, who are comfortable not being part of this vast stream of consciousness, while there may be others who use their abilities and the augmentation to embrace this. These are obviously two extremes, and its quite possible that humans would figure out a middle path. But I already see this divide happening – some leaving it by choice, some left out by circumstances. The learning curve is becoming so steep that after a few years, it might be difficult or even impossible to catch up. And that’s how I begin to wonder whether we’re rapidly approaching the point when the species will diverge. Maybe not in my lifetime, but within a couple of generations?
There’s another aspect of all this that I wondered about. With the increasing amount of information and the speed at which we’re forced to process it, will we have time to acquire more perspectives, or continuing that cycle, accumulate more baggage? Will that change the way we behave with people, and the way we live life? Will we become more objective? Or will we become more biased, relying on notions we don’t have time to change, and behaving accordingly?
As I write this there is a stream of thoughts running in my head – of times, friends and relationships. Poignant moment as I realise the vast yet connected nature of the universe and its inhabitants. In the miniscule amount of my lifetime that I have spent on Twitter, I realise that people and relationships have changed, perhaps irrevocably. The lifestream will be an interesting read for me later, if I do manage it. Meanwhile life flows, faster, faster, until each second and beyond is accounted for, with streamers in between, so that we might remember…just..
until next time, you’re here..now..reading post #700..thank you