17 June 2008

I, Informavore (Also: Michael Agger Read My Mind)

I can't ever get enough information. I hoard it. If information were a pet, I'd be a cat lady. I need it all but I don't have enough time to absorb all of it. Last night I gutted Monday's WSJ in bed because I had to study on the way to work. So I devoured what I could (while listening to 1010 WINS) and the few pages I wanted to read later I brought to work with me today. My plan was to read them later but on my porch this morning was today's issue and now I'm behind. AGGGHHHH!! I'm running out of time. I need more information. More. More. Molto. Molto.

An idea will pop into my head for one article and as I'm researching or writing that article my mind gets lost down a rabbit hole of ideas for something else. For a manic mind, the internet is a blessing and a curse all at once.

mental hoarding

I will tirelessly research spellings, contexts and references for simple emails, message board posts and text messages (I'm trying to leave behind a grammatically correct legacy). My mind works faster than a the central nervous system of a squirrel. My mind is always racing. The cursor forever blinking. Often my brain works faster than my fingers. I'll wanna search something on Google. I'll open up a new IE page and type in "Goog" before my finger instantly slams enter. I need to be there now. Already gone. Back again. Jumping out of my skin when an idea hits. Inconsolable. Searching for a pen or a tape recorder or someone to tell it to, hoping they'll remember for me. Hoarding information. Skimming articles because my eyes are thirsty for more. Research. Research. Like a game of Memory. Thinking to myself "Where did I see that thing the other day?!" going back and trying to find it. Tracing my e-steps. How did I search it. How did I stumble upon it. How can I make those same mistakes so I can find it again. My mind craves it.

I've found a term for it: informavore or informivore - an organism that consumes information. The famous Princeton psychologist George A. Miller coined the term back in 1983 as an analogy to how organisms survive by consuming negative entropy (as suggested by Erwin Schrödinger).

"Just as the body survives by ingesting negative entropy, so the mind survives by ingesting information. In a very general sense, all higher organisms are informavores."

An early use of the term was in a newspaper article by Jonathan Chevreau in which he quotes a speech made by the Canadian cognitive scientist and philosopher, Zenon Pylyshyn. Soon after, the term appeared in the introduction of Pylyshyn's seminal book on Cognitive Science, Computation and Cognition. A real page turner. Haha.

porno for disposophobics

More recently the term has been popularized by philosopher Daniel Dennett in his book Kinds of Minds and by cognitive scientist Steven Pinker.

Lazy Bastards: How we read online. by Michael Agger

Also see: The Collyer Brothers

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