DISCLAIMER: This post has nothing to do with the game cricket, my apology to the fans of cricket crazy nation. The issue here is rather bigger that involves the personal aspect behind liking cricket or any other sports or any other activity. Passion. This post is about liking, attachment, passion, and effect of wide availability of information caused by internet.
The power of having information at the fingertip is widely felt and it leveled the playing field across the globe and with new internet web 2.0 the collaboration has further enhanced. The more we are connected the more we share and it results in having more and more, almost amounting to perfection, information about almost any topic under the sun. Isn’t it great? It defiantly is or at least it appears to be great. Wait a minute and think, is it really what we want? Do we really want information to be at our fingertips? Always? Now, the usual corporate i-d-bomb, (it depends bomb).
When I was in class 7th, my history teacher, Miss Abha, introduced us to the world of scrapbook and seeded in me the habit of collection and it went all chaotic. Initially it was a mad rush not for gold but for piece of news, stat and photo clippings then things eventually eased out as wheat got separated from chaff with passing time. And the habit stuck with me of clipping important, pictures, news material from daily newspaper and even periodical. That was the first incidence of some-what organized information collection in my life. The journey started from collecting information on Olympics and world cup cricket followed by trickling information on USSR dissolution of early 90’s.
Sachin was a ray of hope for Indian cricket and the name itself was enough to stimulate us. The first memory I’ve of this batting genius is of 88 that he scored in Benson and Hedges cup, which happened to be his highest score at that time and for quite some time then. I was his fan and so were others but it was not until 1996 when I became so ardent believer of his talent that I decided to make a collection of his cricketing stats. The thought came and off I went to buy a notebook intended to do science practical (I still don’t know its name other than practical-copy) and how passionately I scanned collection of cricketing magazines I had over the years and news paper and started cutting stills of various cricketing shot Sachin used to play and score-card of all his centuries up to 25th. Not to my amazement, I didn’t have all the score cards, as I didn’t have all the magazines. This pushed me off to ask my friend who used to play local district club with me and there I came to know a senior player of my club who had all the collection since later 80s. I was thrilled and this amazement helped me in sieving through the grimy, malodorous sacks of old magazines just to add couple of more score card to my scrapbook but the satisfaction I derived out of it was immense.
The whole point of narrating this incidence was to bring home the notion of passion attached with the cutting of stills of Sachin hitting various cricketing shot, collecting stats and what not. Now, in the age of information at the fingertip we’ve it all. Just Google it and it’s there. The things are there but feeling isn’t.
Jump Cut to 2007, I’ve all the data on Sachin, all the stats on him by pointing and clicking just once on crickinfo.com but I seldom go there to check. Not because I am not fan of Sachin any more, he is still my hero, but because there is just raw information which is devoid of any feeling, passion. Ray Kurzweil in his book, The spiritual machine talks about 2020 when computer intelligence will be equal to that of human’s and probably will be able to feel. My question is, then also will it be possible for one individual to derive sense of accomplishment from the data gathered by computers that can feel? I doubt. We can’t.
I’ve a collection of more than 10,000 wallpapers (no exaggeration) and more wallpaper are getting added to the collection every week but again it fails to excite me in the way the movie poster of magazines like, screen, star dust, Filmi Kaliyan and likes used to do. I remember how frenzied my entire hostel was for screen magazine and its glossy paper. It used to get released on Thursdays and from 5.30 in the morning till afternoon; we used to wait to buy it. It cost around Rs.4 which wasn’t a huge some but perennial impecunious like me seldom had that amount to buy and having knowledge about my impulsive behavior, my hostel-mate used to black market the posters to me (on credit) charging at least triple of the market rate. Here, I learned my preliminary lessons, in credit, supply and demand. I remember how I adored movie poster of Yugandhar, Mithun starrer N. Chandra’s flick. The poster was on gloss paper and was classy.
The world is not deprived of classy wallpapers but we human by our addiction of all information at the fingertip are getting deprived of passion and association with simple things of life. It is these simple things that offer much satisfaction.
Now the question is how to define which information one should have at fingertips and which information one should strive for and should not be readily available? The answer is again another i-d-bomb. It depends on us individually. On periphery, all the information that has anything to do with our profession should be as much and even more available as it is now But (with big B) information that has to do with our recreation, collection, hobbies should be made inaccessible, which can’t be obtained without difficulty.
Here I’d give a rough account of an illustrious professor, Barry Schwartz who in his wonderful book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less talks about how the availability of too much of choices is taking satisfaction out of the consumption. He talks about the difficulty he had while buying a simple pair of denim which he eventually failed to get on that trip to supermarket and how the new trend among medical practitioner in USA of giving open choices to patient will be unhealthy and deadly for the patient.
It’s high time for us to stop and think what we are getting and at what cost? We also need to evaluate the things we want? And do we need to follow the exact foot step of our American counterpart? Shouldn’t we take short cut when it’s required for avoiding the pain they are facing? In Kurzweil’s term do we need the solution of all our problems? Should some information be out of our hand? Won’t this investment of search cost fetch more satisfaction out of every consumption? Isn’t readily availability of all the answer a bad thing?
We must not forget the goal of all our endeavour is satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment. We are so attached to the object that it made us forget the destination. Satisfaction is what we want not consumption. It’s just a process.