That feeling when you remember that novel thing that a person did with a piece of technology to solve a problem, and it is the perfect example of whatever it is that you’re getting at… But you forgot where you read about it. And for the next 30 minutes you rampage through the internet looking for the news article to share with your friend. Every other piece of relevant information is disregarded in the relentless pursuit of that one specefic thing you’re looking for. Maybe you find it, maybe a friend someone on a forum remembers where it is, or maybe it is lost to the internet. We’ve all been there.
Scrying, as defined by Wikipedia, “is the practice of looking into a translucent ball or other material with the belief that things can be seen, such as spiritual visions, and less often for purposes of divination or fortune-telling.” I guess this is mostly done to tell the future, or to see across time, but I would argue that the internet does these things, so its pretty much the same.
The loss of information that we all experience isn’t due to information overload, it is due to a lack of information architecture. I’m sure there is some sort of computational or biological metaphor here, maybe I’ll come fill this in later. I am sure though that I have not come across this piece of information yet, because I currently have a pretty decent understanding of where to find every piece of information I’ve found interesting in the past two years.
This information architecture problem is addressed by having a whole bunch of different blogs and websites. Here is a list as of the publishing of this post:
Some of them are collections of information. Some of them are collections of ideas, or interesting pictures and videos. Almost all of them have images associated with each piece of information. The human brain seems to be really really good at looking at pictures. We’re highly visual creatures. The eye has been around a lot longer than language or the written word. It is my unscientific opinion that this may have something to do with our visual aptitude. The result is that we can scan hundreds and thousands of images very quickly. And if a piece of information is associated with each of these images, then it makes it incredibly easy to navigate back to bits of information or pieces of ideas. Posting bits of information and associating them with images takes some diligence, but it pays off.
In regards to news articles, the above image is a three-month archive of everything I found interesting, related to science or technology.
I’m getting ready for the day when we’re more intimately plugged into the internet. What that means, I have no clue. I can imagine walking through some sort of city street where buildings are sorted by subject of interest, and by month, and pictures of memories and ideas make up the structure and the metaphor become the environment that you inhabit. I’m starting to outsource my brain to this network. I’m storing memories and associations there. Could I live without it? Sure. Easy. But life has become so much more rich and relevant now that I have plugged this part of my memory storage into the internet.