Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Information Overload

It's a good job that information isn't a tangible, consumable substance. If it were, it might easily become possible to drain a book or magazine of its contents simply by reading it through once. There'd be nothing but blank pages left, plus the occasional boring paragraph that had been skipped. People who browsed bookshops could start doing serious damage to the stock. The situation would be closely akin to that of someone roaming the shelves at Waitrose, periodically breaking into packs of biscuits in order to nibble the chocolate ones.

Talking of supermarkets, this is another area where voracious readers could do a great deal of harm, especially in the tinned food section. Anyone who read the label on a can that declared itself to be, say, soup or beans would instantly delete that information. Which wouldn’t matter much if he then went on to buy it, but would be a real pain in the arse if he didn’t, as the next customer who came along would just see a bare, uninformative tin. He might chance it, of course, and buy, anyway. But if he did, could end up cooking himself cat food on toast later that evening.

I suppose some types of information would be more potent that others. Existentialist novels, for instance. Intellectuals who visited existentialist book clubs and who overdid it on such might come staggering out, intoxicated by the text. Indeed, self-control might disappear altogether. After six chapters of Martin Heidegger, I'd imagine the average person would probably get very uptight and filled with self-loathing, and so try to pick a fight with someone who’d got similarly nihilistic after five and a half chapters of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Come closing time, the pavements around these book clubs would doubtless be covered in festering pools of regurgitated Jean-Paul Sartre.

Another problem would be information bloat. An overly voracious reader could take in so much information that his head would expand, dangerously. In fact, his brain might get so heavy with the intake that his head would actually fall off. Consequently, university towns would become full of headless dons.

On the up-side, however, all of this would force doctors and dentists to continually update the magazines in their waiting rooms. There’d never be any more risk of reading yet another National Geographic from 1959, for example.


Anonymous said...

Tins in East Germany never had info on the.One had to guess contents.Had a scrummy dream about Keira Knighley.

Joe Slavko said...

Keira Knightley is flat-chested and androgynous. She appeals only to those of ambiguous sexuality.

Anonymous said...

Class ride though.

Anonymous said...

Sorry that Janus brought you into a private spat (God knows why). Don't take any hols in Odense. You are well though of at MyT. Just back from the "front line" of south Belfast. Phew!

Joe Slavko said...

I missed the reference in MyT as I don't go there any more. What was said?