Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Age of Information

"What's offensive is not their lying - one can always forgive lying - lying gets you closer to the truth. What is most offensive is that they they lie, and then worship their own lying."

~Fydor Dostoevsky~
Welcome to the age of information.

Five minutes ago I was faced with the daunting task of finding a quote that had stuck with me while reading Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment'. Rather than traverse to the bookshelf housing the book and then spend an annoying amount of time trying to pinpoint the exact quote, I turned to my good friend Google. 30 seconds, and some strategically arranged search terms later, I had all the information I needed.
Amongst the internet savvy, Google has become a verb, and a verb used quite often (much to Yahoo's chagrin)
Harry: Hey, what time is that movie playing
Sally: I don't know, Google it.

Harry: What does the "T" in James T. Kirk stand for?
Sally: ummm.... Google it?
The internet has revolutionized the world we live in, and the way we live in it.

Consider the following:
Forbes magazine reported that Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in existence with Assets toppling 1.5 billion dollars at the ripe old age of 23. He got there by creating Facebook, arguably the most popular social networking site on the web, and in turn selling Facebook for an estimated 750 million dollars.

Facebook is free.
For zero dollars a month I stay in touch with my friends and family (my Mom and Dad both recently joined), I share pictures, articles, videos and links, I update my status regularly with witty comments to show how cool I am, I join interest groups and heatedly debate whatever topic suits my fancy and I spend an embarrassing amount of time doing it all. In essence, Zuckerberg and other internet moguls have expanded the mold of traditional economics. Their industry is one in which value is not decided by how many, and for how much, its products will be sold. Instead, valuation is dependent on one variable: information. Matching those who want to be known, with those who want to know.

Of course, our world is one of balance in which every action has an opposite and equal reaction. The age of information has streamlined our businesses, opened up worlds of knowledge that were once unreachable, and connected people in a way that would have been impossible only a short time ago. The benefits seem to be infinite, but the existential laws of nature bow to none. There is a dark side to our progression that cannot be ignored.

Consider nuclear energy.... As quickly as one plant can light the homes of thousands, it can destroy them. The benefit or harm of any advancement is entirely dependent on the hands that use it.

The age of information is only now blossoming. The momentum of progression is unmatched by any point in history. Yet as we celebrate the vastness of the possibilities before us, we must also guard ourselves from the evils that come equally.

Truth is always some form of information, but every form of information is not necessarily truth.

p.s. the "T" In James T Kirk stands for Tiberius. But I didn't need Google for that, I just knew it.

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