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(2010-09-15) Selectivity of the mind

Never in history has so much information been available to us as today. Never before have we created so much for so many. It’s all thanks to the “information super highway” we call the Internet.

Do you hear the sound of open doors being knocked in? I sure do. The sentences above sound like what everyone wrote back in 1997. It’s been 10-15 years since most of us caught wind of the “Internet” and what a ride it has been. But still, some of the old prophesies are today’s reality. Just think what AltaVista, Yahoo, Google, Live journal, MySpace, YouTube, Face Book and Twitter have changed in our society.

In 1999, and as a hobby, I worked at a small community radio station here in Stockholm. We were recording and broadcasting popular science programming and in the last days of 1999 we made a two hour program about the future. On the show we tried to predict how technology and science would affect us in the coming years. Listening to it now may be hilarious for the more cynical among us. We did some seriously bad guesses and some of the things we talked about still have to happen. But we did get a few things right. One of those predictions was correct because it was already something of an emerging trend back then: how free access to information won’t make us more open to new influences.

There are forums for almost everything out there, and as surfers we quickly find the places where we can talk with others sharing our interests or read up on theories we already believe in. The fact that we can also read about things we don’t believe in or learn something from people that we see as fundamentally wrong does not seem to make a difference. Instead, we stick to the people, things and world views that do not offend or challenge us. A little bit of food for thought: go to YouTube and search for a song that is quite old and look at the comments. Note people writing stuff like:

- “We miss x. Music today is not as good as x ever was.” and my favorite:
- “I wasn’t even born when they made their music and I still think it’s better than anything the play on the radio today”.

Search for a newly released song and top it off by searching for music that was considered ridiculous 15 years ago. Surprise, it’s the same type of comments everywhere. Not much of a scientific experiment, but it’s a fun thing to spend a slow Sunday on. And don’t think that you and I are better than the rest. I hold it that the Beatles made music that is better than almost anything you hear today. One word to describe today’s music: auto tune. Hell, it can’t get worse! You think? Just wait 20 years and smile when everyone misses the golden years of auto tuning. My god… What a thought.

Remember that political ideologies, ideas and theories are like tastes. We all have them. For us everything else tastes bad and we believe ourselves to be a select group of people “getting it”. My advice: take a look around and try to understand why others like what they like. It can only be interesting as long as you remember to keep an open mind but not so open that your brains fall out.

Posted: 2010-09-15 by Erik Zalitis
Changed: 2010-09-15 by Erik Zalitis

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