I’ve been scanning all kinds of old music of mine… exercises… articles. Getting rid of pounds of old sheets. And I have mixed feelings about it. Although it’s great to be, as Travis Bickle would say, ‘organisized’, there’s a lot to be said for being surrounded by books and papers—literally stumbling across things to read as you try to find what you’re really looking for. But again, it’s important to have a clean desk.
Now there’s a lot of talk these days about a ‘filter bubble’ and an ‘echo chamber’. For example:
And I know what this guy is talking about. I see this all the time now with friends, fans, co-workers. It’s getting easier and easier to not only be isolated from what’s really going on, but also to be exploited by this insularity; to be a tool of ‘the man’ in a very Huxley kinda way.
And the more one goes paperless; the more one relies on the computer as a single portal for information, the more this becomes problematic. And not just because of that external filter bubble or echo chamber but because of a simple lack of geography.
See the other aspect of having everything in a box is that you lose out on SPACE. I rarely go to a library to ‘browse’ anymore. Why? Because I can find and obtain what I want from the library on-line. Either the content itself is available over the Internet, or I can order what I need and then go and pick it up. And that’s kind of a shame because it cuts me off from the agora and the polis; from the random interactions of the marketplace. Again, that stumble-on effect.
Now when you’re at a library, you stumble across stuff simply because it covers your view. You don’t have to -do- anything to stumble… it’s just all over the place. All stuff that takes up space does that for you. But when you put everything in one box? It puts the onus on -you- to go out and find things. Same thing with the books and documents you have lying around your house—OK, around my. You know, the 416 books strategically located because today is the day you’re going to get round to reading.
Now, I could put all that stuff on a ‘Kindle’ or whatever; and that’s kinda what I’m doing by scanning all these pieces of music. But I have this nagging feeling that by doing so; by becoming oh so much more tidy (and anal retentive), I’m actually filing these things away for good. I’m afraid that I will likely never get round to playing them again, first of all because I’m never going to stumble upon them again, and secondly because, since they aren’t obnoxiously in my way all the time, it will never occur to me to get them out again. Out of sight? Out of mind. And I won’t feel all that bad about it because, hey, they’re pretty fuckin’ well organised!
I keep coming back to a recurring theme that we as humans are reaching a point where we need to think of ourselves like I think of my dogs. We are no longer wild creatures. Our lives no longer map all that well with what our bodies were designed to do. Biology hasn’t yet caught up with our collective lifestyle. So, as with any domesticated creature, we have to ‘do’ things to insure our health in mind and body that used to be automatic. We need to make sure we get enough exercise because our jobs don’t do what ‘living’ did for our muscles ten thousand years ago. And we need to watch our diet, because food is no longer self-limiting.
We’re also going to need to think about this in mental, ethical and spiritual terms. By having all our information pouring from a single spigot, we’re not only in danger of being limited by the dreaded filter bubble, but also in real peril of losing the benefits of all those random interactions with information and culture that can only happen when you don’t have to be ‘intentional’ about finding stuff. The Internet is starting to feel to me like a Stairmaster or a vitamin pill. It may have all the technical ‘exercise and nutrients’ a body needs, but there is something more satisfying about running on a trail or eating a vegetable. Maybe it’s the lack of predictability, I dunno.
I think I’ll go throw some books around the place… in really inconvenient spots, before it’s too late.