Monday, June 23, 2008

Technology's Burdens

Rob Horning at Popmatters has an insightful post on consumerism and the false allure of free stuff that more than anything speaks to me about the tyranny of technology that supposedly makes our life better by giving us more access to free information at our fingertips. And for those of us who work in the realm of knowledge and information there is nothing more seductive than free information.

And yet at least for me, this access is at best a dual-edged sword. I get probably a score of news sources sent to my main email account regularly. Most of this I can justify as work, at least broadly, inasmuch as so much of it helps me stay abreast of African developments that are crucial to my writing on the Foreign Policy Association blogs and elsewhere. But couple these with far too many listservs, and then with a slew of personal email or email from actual people related to professional stuff, and then emails that qualify as junk, and then emails that qualify as semi-welcome junk (emails I signed up for that nonetheless is geared toward selling me something), and then emails regarding financial stuff -- credit card statements, cell phone, etc. and you begin to see the problem. On a day when I'm diligent about emails I find that I'll stay on top of that day's inbox -- unless something big happens in Africa, say -- and may whittle away at ten emails from, more than likely, yesterday, before other duties intercede. then to top that off with the fact that my account was violated some time ago, and I am still dealing with the ramifications (oh yes -- whoever got in there not only copied my contact list but stole it. If we know one another I probably don't have your email address any longer).

And so it was with equal parts fear and loathing that I loaded my main and campus email accounts on to my new Blackberry today. The deluge is already coming. And I asked for it.

(Via Andrew Sullivan, who picked it up from Nicholas Carr

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