Information has evolved into a new species of garbage.
The entire concept of someone who is "informed" has changed and now fragmentary 140 character lines of text pass as communication. It is not that this new breed of information is false that is the issue, but rather it is an illusion of knowledge.
We are all watching as knowledge is drowning in a river of irrelevance. There is constant stream of data flowing from one communication device to the other without picking up value along the way.
Sci-fi novels of the 20th century did not anticipate this 21st century state of reading. Bradbury and Orwell taught us to fear totalitarian governments that wanted to burn books, but no one warned us about the general public expressing their freedom to write so much that nothing would be worth reading.
This century's dystopia novels will be populated by people who read and write all day long, but somehow they know nothing. People who are continually informed and yet have no information. The heroes of these novels will be underground rebels who insist on writing and reading more than 3 lines of text. They can have clever names like Edmund Spenser or Milton Vyasa and these new logos-heros will insist on things like news outlets that pay for and conduct thorough research. Inevitably the next generation of dystopia novels will conclude with death by communal distraction.
This new species of information is worse than being deprived of information because information has become a plague. The more you read, the less you know.
Tyranny is no longer required for the ruin of a society; the freedom to pursue an infinite appetite for distractions can do the job more efficiently. Included in this is the distraction of continual creativity without rationality or analysis.
A 14 year old girl is reported to have sent 35,463 text messages, or about 1 text message a minute in the month of June 2008. "The Old Man and the Sea" only has 27,315 words. The texter in question has stated she texted that much in one month because she was at cheer camp. It seems safe to say that while she wrote more than a Hemmingway novel in one month, the level of valuable information transmitted was probably significantly lower.
The antidote to the venom of cultural distraction is to return to state where reading is considered a serious business. Where the goal of information transfer is no longer quantity, but quality.
It is now November; ticket buying season for Miami Basel even in a down economy. All of the fairs can be followed on Facebook or Twitter:
Pulse on Twitter
Pulse on Facebook
Art Miami on Twitter
Art Miami on Facebook
Miami Basel on Twitter
Miami Basel on Facebook
Aqua on Facebook
I take these modes of communication seriously. Why would I follow Miami Basel's Twitter account? Because I want to see if the fairs will be worth an investment in a trip this year. I expect the information they post to actually be valuable. I expect to see exhibitor lists. I expect to see performance art schedules.
But I am already wrong.
One of the fair's tweets already says, "See you out there!"
It was not worth reading.
It was information evolved into garbage and I was its garbage collector.
I have faith in a return to the seriousness of reading, but I expect it will be a while.