More Things, November 4, 2012
Now the collection is boundless. The space near infinite. Every single item collected is plugged into the network. And so that self—that idealization—suddenly flows fast and far. It touches other selfs, other idealizations. It can be reconstituted by data mappers. What a strange thing to think: It can be reconstituted by data mappers. But it’s true.
According to our December 2011 national survey, Americans under age 30 are more likely than older adults to do reading of any sort (including books, magazines, journals, newspapers, and online content) for work or school, or to satisfy their own curiosity on a topic. About eight in ten say they read for these professional or educational reasons, more than older age groups. And about three-quarters of younger Americans say they read for pleasure or to keep up with current events.
It’s easy to share, to broadcast, to put our selves and our tastes and our identity performances out into the world for others to consume; what feedback and friendship we get in return comes in response to comparatively little effort and investment from us. It takes a lot more work, however, to do the consumption, to sift through everything all (or even just some) of our friends produce, to do the work of connecting to our friends’ generalized broadcasts so that we can convert their depersonalized shares into meaningful friendship-labor.
The idea that humans need stories is as intuitive as it is obvious—we don’t need a good neurologist to tell us the human animal craves narrative and structure to organize the chaos of real life. We need story—but do we need Story, with a capital S?