Between them, google and apple serve up big chunks of my life. And not just the products they offer – calendars, email, apps etc – it’s the string of products that I’m talking about. Large parts of my memory are now outsourced to my iPhone, mac and google account. Pew Internet are worrying about this, but as their latest research suggests, most people think it’s a good thing. http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1499/google-does-it-make-us-stupid-experts-stakeholders-mostly-say-no
I’m less certain. My reading habits have suffered as I seek bitesize chunks of info – sacrificing depth for breadth. I’m a great believer on “sleeping on things”, but that doesn’t work when the things are on machines. Others argue that you outsource the small stuff, making room for your brain to work on the big stuff, but my efforts to segment like this have been difficult, hampered by an overall erosion of deeper thinking. I just have less time to deep think. Emails, podcasts, music – there’s always more to take in, to fill the gap made by the stuff youve outsourced, and the “in between moments” dissapear as a result. These are the day dream moments when the subconscious gets to work on the deep and broad problems. Without it things feel a whole lot more erratic.
But this is the model for technology. It’s sold on how it makes life easier, freeing up leisure time (where’s the 3 day week Tomorrow’s World promised us with the advent of the PC?!) – but it just makes space for more. My blackberry doesn’t free me from the office, it let’s the office flood into my life (though I’m strict about not letting it).
Am I comfortable outsourcing my life to such a ravenous beast? What’s the advantage if it’s just more information? The answer seems to me to be filters. I need better filters so small stuff is dealt with systematically, so I see only what’s really relevant, so outsourcing means deeper time on the stuff that matters. Intelligent filters. That or ludditism, or stupidity, or whatever.