Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Too Much Information?

After scanning an installment of Blogspotting late last Friday afternoon, I hopped in my car for a medium-length trip out of town. Sometime while listening to 3 sermons from Rick Holland that I had just downloaded and the conclusion of Mark Dever preaching "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" on Edwards' 300th birthday, my mind drifted briefly to the nature of our information-overloaded age.

I (we?) spend far too much time engrossed with the information that is available about this particular moment in time. During the past 24 hours, I've scanned a lengthy profile of Rick Santorum, about nine BPNews articles related to last week's SBC annual convention, two on Billy Graham's NYC crusade, a couple WSJ editorials, and an article on why Muslim women are suicide bombers since they don't get the 72 virgins.

Far be it from me to suggest that the Alpha Blogspotter is wrong to scan his own preferred list of blogs and report on them. He has an agenda, and he coincidentally addressed this very issue in an entry (see the last bullet before the comments) on Sunday. (By the way, I'm intentionally avoiding names so as to avoid provoking inclusion in some future Blogspotting and thereby hypocritically engaging in the activities I am questioning.) I am likewise not without guilt in that my entries on Phil Mickelson and Barry Bonds (the Paleoevangelical jinx begins) can hardly be accused of advancing any substantive discussion. And perhaps some light-hearted repartee is occasionally in order.

So, my complaint is not with the supposed Narcissism of blogspotting, but with the rampant self-absorption of the blogosphere and, more broadly, the internet news and discussion culture. Haven't we become far more obsessed with our "15 minutes" than any society, secular or religious, that has preceded us? Can this possibly be healthy? I'm sure that other people have written far more eloquently and incisively on this topic, but rather than track them down and provide yet another link, I think I'll retire for the evening and read an old book.


Michael C said...

Good thoughts. I struggle to find the balance between being aware of what's going on and being an information addict. Furthermore, I'm dismayed to realize that I least often read the longer, meatier articles I come across online. Reading extended articles online quickly becomes tedious. (I'm starting to save these longer articles, print them as booklets, and read them later as one way of addressing this problem.)

I've been glad to see that you don't seem to feel obligated to post constantly in this blog space. You let the content drive the posting--a good habit. Thanks.

John Piper has a brief but good essay on "Computer Unreality" in A Godward Life, Part 2. He warns about "the hook of constant curiosity," something I think many of us web junkies have felt.

Michael C said...

And another thing...

What to do about Al Mohler and his epic daily blog entries? I know he probably uses research assistants, but I can't imagine turning out content at the pace he does. I appreciate his thorough approach, but personally I don't often have time to read his online pieces. I wonder if other people do?

Paul said...

Enough already!

I have often thought about this and wondered how in the world people can keep up with everything out there (let alone contribute to it!). It is absolutely overwhelming to me.

We are truly blessed to have such easy/quick access to so much information and benefit from it in many ways. But in some ways I think it is more of a curse.

Ben said...


I have the same response to the substantial stuff. It's so much easier to scan the quick-hitting tidbits. Thanks for the heads up on Piper's essay.

P.S. Al Mohler must not sleep.

david said...

actually, mohler has talked about his schedule before. you're right about the no sleep thing--he needs no more than 4 hours a night to function.

besides a photographic memory, mohler cuts out notable articles from the variety of magazines he reads daily and places them in a file to deal with later.

it's interesting/depressing to hear him talk about his schedule. i don't know if it's anywhere online.

ever hear about those people who wore grooves in wooden floors from praying? that never worked to motivate me to pray, nor does knowing how mohler manages his time to produce such an amazing body of fresh work. :-)