Response to V. Bush

What strikes me about the Bush piece is the fact that he proclaims technology to be a factor in speeding up society. Think about this in terms of the Internet. Email has allowed correspondence to be almost instantaneous without waiting for the physical limitations the post office imposes upon the deliverance of messages. IM chats have sped this up even more. Whereas in email, it is understandable that a person may not receive the email immediately, the expectation during a chat is an instantaneous response.

This anecdote, though, is ironic in a way that, on a micro-level, may disprove Bush’s idea that technology speeds things up. IMs emulate face-to-face interactions, in which a response is, in fact, instantaneous. On a digital medium, because we are disembodied, the expectation of an IMMEDIATE response is then moderated.

Bush also speaks to our compression of time and space. With technological advancements, the latter is certainly undisputed. Ebooks now condense hundreds of books onto one electronic device, while our music now all fits onto an iPod. No longer is space an indication of how much time we spend consuming a media. Gone are the days of CD racks and bookshelves of books – space that correlates with an investment of time. Time takes up deceptively little space nowadays with the advancement of technology and the invention of tiny, electronic devices (anyone remember the 3rd generation iPod shuffle?).

Weinberger seems to allude to Bush’s ideas of information organization. Bush states that the “[human mind] operates by association.” (section 6) In both Bush and Weinberger’s case, I always think about the ways in which search works, and how we are able to save time by searching, rather than even going through subclass or subcategories. Think about how much time it takes to find a file in your computer as opposed to simply using the search option on your computer. The idea of linearity and nonlinearity comes into play here. Saving time, operating by association rather than predetermined systems (alphabetical or numerical), and searching are all aspects of nonlinearity that have been punctuated and emphasized in the age of new media and digital technology. No longer do we need to remember file paths as we did in the days of yore, even on computers. No longer do we need to remember how we categorized certain files and where we stored them. These acts of remembering take time, and are a linear manifestation of organization. Remember how we used to locate a picture on our computer by labeling it as such?

My Computer > Users > Cynthia > Pictures > Cynthia’s camera > 2012 > April > IMG501.jpg

(Full disclosure: I actually rarely use the search button on my computer, but I am a search fanatic on the Internet, as I’m sure many people are nowadays.)

The process of executing this file path TAKES TIME. And even in writing, it manifests in linear form. New media allows for nonlinear organization and information consumption (and production, to an extent – think of websites, hyperlinks, etc). Naturally, though, even if logically, I say finding information now through a nonlinear search form saves time, the reality of information overload, and whether or not time is actually saved, is still of question. Moreover, when we think about searching through information to get what we need, it may, on the surface, seem as though the individual is in control of the digital media, the individual has agency in obtaining information. However, we must keep in mind the invisible strands of power that control search engines and the structures of digital media, the constraints of codes and digital architecture, that may not allow us as much agency as we’d like to think. Hence, by saving time through search, through this nonlinearity, what is lost in the process?


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