Submitted by Shawn Conn on Sun, 01/31/2010 - 18:48

 It's been a long time since I've written here. Apologies to anyone (if you're still around) who enjoys reading these posts. It's not a matter of not having much to say, rather than just being distracted by other things. 

Being a home owner has been fun, but the novelty of it has worn off; I love living there but I don't feel I have anything new do around it. That will probably change during the spring when I'll have a couple of things to do with the backyard. Generally, I don't think I'm the type to be a home owner: I live as minimally as possible, I move around a lot, I don't have a family to raise. While my primary motivation was getting $8K for a great place to live with a mortgage lower than renting, that was just some economic calculation; every thing else said my lifestyle doesn't fit. Regardless though, I've enjoyed fixing small things around the place and haven't felt weighted down by the burdens. Hopefully it will stay that way.

Work has been equally novelty-lacking lately. I've been accomplishing a few things but most of my workload has stalled. Since working for a larger operation, my work doesn't depend on just myself, I have to rely on many more people to get the job done. While this is process works on its own merits, I'm the type who rather do everything myself; I understand things better that way and I don't think things are slowing down. Not to say co-workers are slowing things down, it's just my perception; when I'm not thinking about a particular problem I feel that the solution is going nowhere. While specialization of labor is probably good thing to do, there's a benefit from being able to see the bigger picture at different angles. 

What has been left for free time has been filled with enough friends, events, projects, and other distractions that I rarely feel the complusion to blog anymore. Besides, blogging is old hat these days. It's all about social media, micro-blogging, and other latest buzzwords these days. All this stuff makes me think people's attention spans are getting shorter. The skeptic in me wants to say this is bullshit. This might be me playing around with semantics, but I think it's more that people are distracted by a lot more information than it being a case of shortened attention spans.

I think its a sign of the information age we live in. We have all kinds of different media to consume now, books, newspapers, images, text, tv, movies, video clips, videogames, etc. Not only that, we have a huge, ever-growing, volume of information to consume from. Because of this, our knowledge has grown not only in depth (how much we can know about a particular topic) but in width too (how many different topics we're aware of). This means while people can have their attention spans shortened by the distraction of thousands of perspectives/topics/media/etc, they can also have their attention lengthened such that the focus is on one-and-only-one subject and all the events relevant to it. 

I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing; its just different from the past. I do think that the information age we live in does a lot to prevent a pervasiveness monoculture from happening. It's kind of ironic when I think about it. We have such a ubiquity of devices that can rapidly and  unambigiously convey information to almost every person on planet in the amount of time never know before. However that same technology hasn't created such some sort of collective understanding, rather it helps create dissent as it enables people to pick and choose what they will see, hear, read, and understand (I'm looking at you 9/11 truthers). Again, I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing (that will probably determined in the future), it's just different. 

If anything else, I think it just shows people are people and human nature isn't as changeable as the technology we use. Morality put aside, I do think the information age does provides us with a illuminating perspective we've never seen before. It shows a macroscopic view of humanity as some sort of collective organism. This is what I think of when I see the growth of cities on satellite maps that looks rather like mold growing on some surface. I see different social groups (united by whatever interests/perspectives) of varying sizes (from small group to a whole nation) as different parts of a collective brain for this organism. Illuminating in someways, scary in others, these are the times we live in. I love it and can't get enough.