Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Enter the editors

Those of you who've read his book (which I haven't, yet) will know that John Naish has said Enough, quite literally, in his book of that title. John was one of the opening speakers at 2gether last week and I thought he shared some brilliant insights with us. John described the overwhelming ocean of digital information the internet has made accessible to us. He calls it infobesity. And ironically, I wanted to know more.

I dug around in the aforementioned ocean and found an article about him (and it) in The Times earlier this year, in which he explained, "Over the past decade, two facts have become increasingly obvious – that our ever-increasing consumption is wrecking the planet, and that continually chasing more stuff, more food and more entertainment no longer makes us any happier. Instead, levels of stress, obesity and dissatisfaction are spiralling."It's true. Most of the people I know are chronicly disatisfied, no matter what they achieve, it's never enough.

John's point is really compelling, and he asks a really provocative question of us all: "Why is our culture still chasing, consuming, striving ever harder, even though we know in our sophisticated minds that it’s an unrewarding route to eco-geddon?"

He's unravelled the mystery and come to the conclusion that it's our primitive brains. John Naish is seriously into evolutionary psychology - which has got to be cool, right?

"These marvellous machines got us down from the trees and around the world, through ice ages, famines, plagues and disasters, into our unprecedented era of abundance. But they never had to evolve an instinct that said, “enough”."

I see it a little differently. My reasons for this different point of view is - wait for it - evolutionary psychology.

I don't think that people go online to get more and more information. This may have been the case in the early years, but now, I think we go online to get less information. I know that sounds crazy, but bear with me.

There was probably a time when the internet was a new, shiny toy that we'd explore and go on neverending digital voyages through. Now, our relationships with the internet and its information has evolved. I think (drumroll please) the editors have entered.

I don't go online to get all the news in every part of the world every day. I could. But I don't. Instead I go to news sources that I trust (i.e. not Fox) and hear what they have to say.

The editor theory isn't mine, it's Pedro's - the third - and most inconspicious - partner in Unchained. He spouted his editor wisdom to me a couple of months ago. "People," he said, in his lazy, Brazillian twang "like DJs, because DJs listen to all the new music that's out there and only play the best."

He sees Unchained as an editor. And I think he's right. You see, I reckon we said enough a little while ago and developed a loyalty to the people and industries that apply the perfect filters for our lives.

What do you think? Are we infobese? Who are your editors?

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