Infoholics Print
Written by Peter Whiting   
Friday, 19 October 2007

Hello, my name is Pete, and I'm an infoholic.

I've met others with information addictions: e-mail,  Blackberries, IM, Web sites, evening news, newspapers, cell phones, texting, whatever.

Something fundamental has changed in the last decade: the amount of information at our fingertips has exploded. We are like alcoholics who live at the brewery - and the beer is free.

In January I went skiing with my son and two of his friends. All three of them were listening to their iPods as we drove to the ski resort. No conversation. No anxious anticipation. Just passive entertainment. Everyone had blank looks on their faces as they absorbed the entertainment. I concluded that iPods are anti-social.

So I bought one and now I'm hooked. By listening to my iPod while I ride my bike to work I'm chugging down at least two hours of audio books and podcasts each day.

Does all this information I'm consuming cause me to become more capable of informed discussion? Maybe. Does it make me more capable of original, creative, insightful, contemplative thought? Maybe, maybe not. What is a conversation like with someone who primarily regurgitates another's ideas?

I'm sitting at home eating dinner by myself. My daughter has already eaten and is sitting at the computer doing her homework. She doesn't really need to speak with me, right? She doesn't need to discuss anything, right? If I plug my brain into my iPod and unplug from the world, do I miss out on anything?

If I'm unplugged from the world during my ride to and from work and miss the sound of the stream, the birds, the wind, do I miss anything? They are not talking to me, right?

Nobody but my ipod is talking to me.

And when you hear me speak, you'll hear my ipod. No wind. No birds. No stream. No Pete.

Peter Whiting is the Chief Technology Officer for ICS.