Posts Tagged ‘information’

Has the pandemic put an end to the information age? Are we returning to quiet understanding? There is so much conflicting information vying for the spotlight the more stable and dependable progression of experience, reason and knowledge is once again appealing. Let’s face it, information is complementary to thought but a dreadful substitute for it. It’s not good to have people driving into lakes as the highly informed GPS directs. Or purchasing expensive kitchen equipment that won’t last as long as the spices in the cupboard; then repeating the process based on the latest corporate marketing data. Businesses shouldn’t be paying huge amounts for analysis divined from spurious data with no greater purpose than to protect corporate decision makers with insufficient experience, knowledge or intuition to do the job properly.

Big data is an update on human created deities; wisdom extracted is depended on high priests creating queries, interpreting the results and convincing others of the power of the process. Panning for understanding through floods of data generated in social media is to search for truth in billions of keystrokes of jabberwocky as people dream up their personas on the fly. The whole process lends ‘party of one’ new meaning as each participant sits alone with others. Insights are, at best, ephemeral and seldom challenged by reality.

With global economies in trouble, surviving businesses may have to create results rather than relying on huge marketing budgets and excuses. CEOs may have to turn to traditional business folks – farmers and fishers – for advice. Producers who produce and market their products have long relied on experience, reason and knowledge to return from a storm at sea or salvage a crop during a bad growing season. Excuses, no matter how brilliantly constructed or data-driven, don’t change a thing in their demanding environments. Smart business may see a correlation between a lifeless economy and a nor’easter at sea. Those who don’t adapt may never be seen again.

The rubber hits the road with autonomous cars. Millions of man hours and dollars, decades of development and relentless promotion has resulted in as many sightings of unicorns as information-based driver-less vehicles on standard roads and highways. Most of us quickly develop enough knowledge at a young age to drive without incident. IT has proven no challenge to human experience.

The alphanumeric-graphical model of reality has become so splintered and strayed so far from reality it is often a disadvantage. Information has been weaponized. We have become polarized by incomplete misunderstandings of the information we only know as quoted to us with all the verve of chapter and verse. We are convinced of what is right in many cases without knowing anything at all. We make our decisions based on the marketing of ideas rather than personal observation. We expect our politicians to do the same. They oblige.

It’s time to avoid seemingly inescapable media, witness the world first hand and make our decisions based on our observations, our experience, and our principles. It is time we put ourselves and our communities back in the driver’s seat.

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We have been jettisoning our culture for decades without due care and attention. We have been identifying faults in every principle on which we stood and casting them out but how have we been replacing that foundation? Who is replacing that foundation? What mental bacteria are we hosting unsuspectingly? Whose words are the new gospel? It is as human to believe as it is to breathe. Who has been supplying our new found beliefs? What makes the new beliefs superior to the old ones? Defining one’s beliefs makes them subject to questioning and ridicule but what do we actually know about the less familiar replacements? Are the sources of funding (as illusive as gods to atheists) for the creation of information investing in the future or feeding the greed?

We have been modeling reality seriously with words, numbers, graphs and maps now for about the lifespan of a generation of old growth forest. Unfortunately, they too are being sacrificed to our holy explanations. The model in its present state has strayed too far from reality to feed the hunger consuming the world. Words fail us, numbers aren’t adequately explaining abstract ideas, graphs stagnating on a page don’t represent the activity of being. Information is being hollowed out and sold to us like industrial flour and we buy it as almighty truth; empty calories for the mind.

Secular priests, paid up and mortarboarded, highly informed on all things worldly are happy to inform us we will soon understand how time and space can exist at all without being infinite. (I have a nice logo for the perpetual motion machine as soon as it is completed.)

When someone tells you your beliefs are laughable, laugh. We all deserve a good laugh and a moment to reflect on life, our cobbled together explanations of it and the vain seriousness of our incomplete misunderstandings.

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If democracy is dependent on an
informed electorate can it exist in the land of Google? There are not
many pages being delivered to browsers that don’t have the same
limited set of messages chosen for us, not by us. These same
seemingly agreeable messages appearing over and over are aimed at us,
not for us. It is like a dripping tap; drip, drip, drip hitting
squarely on the center of our forehead. Fortunately for some the
damage is limited to time spent on the Internet.

Foraging beyond the computer for
constant confirmation of our beliefs displays mantras maintained by
Murdoch and the rest of the media stable. What Hitler was able to
accomplish in a small geographical area with amplification, media is
now managing internationally and unrelentingly – powerful
misinformation in the service of the few. Messages are so ubiquitous
they seem like our own thoughts. Prejudices and merchandise presented
as ideas disconnected from source form inescapable sound scapes and
landscapes that blend into a virtual mind adopted by us as us.

The grand traditions of silent orders
and mountain top gurus existing and thinking beyond the fray has
given way to highly-informed experts but is having too much
information to be misinformed? Is information best used to stimulate
thought, not usurp it? Is knowledge drowning in a sea of information?
Are we so given to modeling everything with words and images we trust
the abstract more than reality? Have we come to trust our information
more than reality? It appears we have. What cannot be ‘proven’ with
words is dismissed as false. Why? Love cannot be proven any more than
any other commitment but few parents put the effort forward to
explain to their children it is not real; yet they can spend as
much time as it takes to ‘prove’ others’ belief systems ridiculous.
Why are we so determined to restrict reality to our limited and
descriptive mindset? We dismiss art in the same manner – “That’s
not art, it doesn’t meet the criteria”. So – art is not inventory.
Good art, as most of the wonderful things in life, defies database
driven description.

Is misinformation easier to generate
as, like gossip, it is completely dependent on avoiding research? Is
it easier to comprehend as it has no truck with truth and moves like
darkness through a vacuum? Everything you need to know to participate
you know without effort. Is intolerance and a world limited by what
rather than what could be really the best way forward?

Wrestling with what we don’t understand
may be a better exercise than condemning those who do and yet the
trend is quite the opposite. Why do we have such strong opinions
about the Middle East or religion? What is our true concern? For the
most part we have too many difficulties locally and personally to invest our
families and thoughts in borders and governance of people who have zero
history of peace or problem solving. Are these opinions actually our
opinions or are we being manipulated? Are others queuing our anger strictly
for their own interests? Should we not be concentrating on our own problems?
There appears to be a lot of men angry with other cultures for the way they
treat women but was it truly male enlightenment that lead to women driving
in some parts of the world or simply altered requirements and expediency
in developing environments? Maybe a quick review of wages would help us
grasp our own skewed perspective of equality. Maybe circumstance dictates our
cultural mores more than altruism. We could always try tolerance and
acceptance just to see what happens next. That would be novel.

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The scientific method is the most powerful tool for the advancement of human understanding of the physical world.

On the other hand using ‘science’ as a proper noun to describe an omnipotent power is the secular equivalent of old time religion. “I believe in science because science will guide and save us” and other such nonsense is about the same as putting your faith in a hammer. Science is a tool. It can be used well or poorly, it can be used by friend and foe alike, it can be used to advance or deter us from advancement, it is the cornerstone of information age marketing. ‘Studies indicate’ or more forcefully ‘scientific studies have proven’ are regularly followed by snake oil information used to convince us to buy into something, send money to someone or get certified somehow. Carefully controlled studies are being used effectively as transient substitutes for chapter and verse to ensure people know their place and how to appoint it.

Let’s face it we are information obese. We have too much undigested gibberish clogging up our thinking and much of it has been foisted on us using terms of proof and science. Phrasing things in the context of science has the same disarming effect on us today as the use of God has had on select populations for a few thousand years. Ignorance need no longer be the result of not being informed, it can result from being endlessly informed of disparate ‘facts’ from the mills of the information industry – snack facts. Most of us choose our facts carefully to align with our desires and beliefs. Facts have become a freely traded commodity so we have no trouble finding just the right ones for every occasion. Searching for truth by gorging on the endless manufactured information about diet or abortion alone would be enough to discourage the most determined of critical thinkers. We are living in such a dense sea of information we would feel bereft if beached by a bad battery. Independent thinking could go the way of whale’s legs if we don’t stay carefully tuned to ourselves. A healthy mind needs a proper balance of nourishment, exercise and contemplative silence to start the journey to mindful independence.

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