Saturday, November 25, 2006
The Information Age
There seems to me to be an irony implicit in calling this the "information age." Mankind has more data available to him than ever before, but we're faced with the same problems we have always had- and far more of them.
Unsurprisingly, individual lives mirror this collective problem. At every moment, we have input pouring in from ten thousand sources, and it's hard to sort it out. It's as though we were a construction site where the trucks were pulling up every eight seconds with another pile of building materials and finding out the foreman isn't there. The result? Every truck just dumps its load of materials any old place and moves on to bring in the next load. Our inner workers frantically try to keep up, but the site is in chaos and every structure that begins to rise up doesn't follow the intention of the architect. The crews themselves become desperate- they know there is something wrong. They can't get a grip--they don't even speak the same langauges, to borrow from the famous parable--so they try to become architects themselves. New structures get thrown up and torn down right and left as competeing crews try to deal with the influx of material. They argue with each other. There's too much of some materials and not enough of others.
What we end up with is a huge pile of disordered rubble, all of which was intended to build something, but which goes terribly astray.
The idea of in-formation, to me, is not just data. It is the idea of forming something inwardly. In order to do this someone has to be in charge. There has to be discrimination- we can't just pile up materials on our inner construction site willy-nilly, we have to select materials intelligently. We need to know something about building and the site, and there has to be a plan. We're never going to get a tenant to move in if we can't create a suitable residence.
The process of in-formation invoves informing our inner parts. They're discombobulated: they don't talk to each other and in many cases they don't even know their partners are on the building site with them. So we need to get in touch with them and let them know there's an aim.
Increasingly I rely on my breathing to inform me. Every breath I take, if taken with attention, has the potential to help my construction crew remember what it's supposed to be up to.
With the help of my breathing, all day long I can remind them:
We're always on site, guys, and we are working against a deadline.