Monday, June 6, 2011

information technology has less information than the technologies it replaces

Why is it so hard to live in a civilization that is based on the straight line” asks TorNörretranders and supplies the answer: “because it has so little information”. We have all the time striven to increase accessibility and predictability in our relationship with nature and other people. That is why we build roads and why we make laws. With industrialism we can create a very predictable world, a world where we can sleep well in a comfortable bed in warm houses without fearing the wolfs, where we don't have to look down where to put our foot, because the know the pavement is even; we can count on that the meeting car is driving on the “right” side of the road (even when the right happens to be the left side). This world also easily becomes a very boring world, exactly because it is so predictable. And in no way, the information-society is giving us a more complex world or less predictable world. Despite its name, information technology has less information than the technologies it replaces. “Humans that have the capacity to meaningfully process millions of bits per second are now processing a few bits on a computer screen.” (Nörretranders 1991). This is another side of how we build society, and another example of how too much of something that is essentially good and useful can become a burden.

Nørretranders, Tor 1991, Märk världen: En bok om vetenskap och intuition, övers. Jan Wahlén, Bonnier Alba, exists in English as The User Illusion. Quotes are translated from the Swedish version,

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