(Way) too much information (Part 1)

I am close to exhaustion. The noise in my head is getting louder and louder and it’s beginning to sound like there’s a train coming.

Since starting this course, the monumental spike in the quantity, quality and variety of material I need to read has consumed me.

It’s not just the required weekly reading for the course. It’s the twenty-odd weekly blogs from my classmates that I must read and comment on. (Now there’s a challenge. Learning to ‘externalise’, not ‘internalise’ my thoughts and reactions to your blogs!) And then reading the comments on the comments, and the reply to the comments on the comments, and so on. And then following those links and tips that you, dear fellow blogger, point me to. It’s an everlasting meander and I often find myself still sitting at the computer at 12 o’clock at night.

Local community is important to me, so I read the local newspaper. Pity there are THREE in this LGA. I read The Age Monday to Sunday and Herald Sun and Financial Review on an ‘as-needs’ basis. I also flick to the online newspapers every day and when required.

And then I have four personal email accounts and four work email accounts to manage.

Every hour on the hour I receive media monitoring emails that let me know what the three AM radio stations plan to discuss and what they actually did discuss, what the four major TV networks news channels are saying in the morning, afternoon and evening. I get Google alerts on four different subjects, I scan daily email summaries on women’s health issues, cancer-related issues and general health related issues.

And let’s not forget all those interesting blogs and random websites bookmarked in my favourites that beckon unsuccessfully for my attention.

About an hour and a half  of my (daily) life is spent commuting from the west to the City and back – five days a week. In the morning when my mind is fresh I open my uni reading. In the evening when I am a slug I read the Mx, along with every other commuter in Melbourne (Don’t you think there’s something really sinister about us all reading THE SAME THING AT THE SAME TIME?) In bed I read a book, aka novel (Macq: n. a fictitious prose narrative of considerable length, usually having a plot that is developed by the actions, thoughts, speech, etc., of the characters.)

All of this reading is now done with a different eye. Where previously I might not have been instantly attracted to digital media news,  I now actively seek it out. And there’s a lot of it. I read it slowly if it doesn’t make sense, or I scan it. If I haven’t got time to read it, I cut the article out, fold it and store it for later (in one of my ‘piles requiring action‘.)

Here’s just a sample of what I have read in the Mx over a two-day period (admittedly not a great or erudite source to base my random sample on, but you get the point):

Paris Hilton claims she didn’t own the bag in which cocaine was found (even though she posted a Twitter photograph of herself holding it).

British postal service  has launched an “intelligent” stamp – stamps designed to work with image recognition software on a range of smartphones. Using the app (Junaio), users hover the phone over the stamp which automatically directs the user to the online content.

Yay! Tuesday is Webcast day. Mx will tell me the top 5 YouTube clips, Top 5 MySpace sites, Top 5 Tweets, Top 5 Facebook pages and Top 5 Randoms (websites) for the week, as voted by readers, which is practically everyone who managed to get into the train. Hmmm. Captive audience. Should I send them the link to my blog?

Supporters of WikiLeaks founder are now “blowing the whistle on him”, insisting he step aside until criminal investigations are concluded.

North Korea held a secretive national day celebrations at China’s Shanghai Expo, shutting out most visitors and media from the event.

The six puppies seen being thrown into the river in Bosnia have supposedly been rescued by a grandmother.

Psychologists say that using Facebook while studying can lower exam results by up to 20 per cent.

Social networkers and gamers are spending big on virtual goods that are only ever used online.

A Twitter treasure hunt starts this week in Melbourne and another four international locations. Those who locate globes hidden by a travel company will win a holiday.

Way too much information.

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On blogging pond

Last week’s reading gave me cause to ponder the range of motivations to create a blog. Those millions of miles of fibre optic cable that enable us to ‘upload’ our streams of consciousness and loose thoughts – all into a forum that promotes us from consumer to producer. This particular paragraph in the reading took my eye:

It was long assumed that producing any product of substance or complexity takes some kind of hierarchical organization or institution. The assumption was the you needed top-down vertical integration to get such things done and out into the world. But thanks to our new found ability to upload – which came about as a direct result of the flat-world platform – you can now produce really complex things, as an individual or a part of a community, with so much less hierarchy and so much less money than ever before.

(From Thomas L. Friedman, “Globalisation of the Local”, The World is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, 2007.)

As I sat late one night and idly scanned a blog hosted by Blogspot, I noticed the ‘Next Blog>>’ button. One click and another craft blog followed. Click again and the next blog is craft-oriented. Click again and – you guessed it – a craft blog. From scrapbooking to tatting to quilting and patchwork and stitching, I’m beginning to see a recurring theme.

I’m reminded of the The Magic Faraway Tree, except that each time I poke my head into the clouds, I’m still in Craftland! (is Saucepan Man watching me and does he knows I like craft?)

And then it hits me. There is a WHOLE WORLD of creativity and talent out there that has previously struggled for expression and legitimacy – the world of crafters!

Each of these craft blogs represents the days of the lives of hundreds and thousands of women who have a skill and a passion and they’re proud (damn it!). They want to SHARE IT WITH THE WORLD. Sure, it’s not ‘fine art’ or ‘modern art’. It’s homely and ingenious and inventive art but it has kept people in blankets and clothes and decorations for generations.

Each of these blogs is created with such a strong desire to share. These blogs are beautiful!

Consider some of the kickers on their blogs:

“Everyday life as seen by a somewhat crafty middle-aged wife …”

and

“Where my creative juices flow and spill out all over the place”

and

“Here I am. Messy. Real. Life. Welcome to my home! The place I feel at home and the place that is my home: my heart”

and

“Being creative | using my heart | my hands | my mind | is an important | part of who I am”

and my personal favourite:

“Adventures of silly woman” (she’s a quilter)

The masses have mobilised and they are women and they are crafty and they are coming to a blog near you!

Don’t get me started …

Apropos of our class discussion yesterday, have a look at the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) web site for a link to “Reconnecting the customer”, a public enquiry and call for stakeholder submissions into the difficulties that consumers face in the telecommunications industry, with particular reference to customer service and complaint-handling  practices.

We discussed in class that the proliferation of complex and sophisticated convergent devices and services (such as internet available on mobile phones) hasn’t necessarily increased our “customer satisfaction” with the way these goods and services are supplied. The consumer is increasingly required to enter into more and more complex decision-making that has concurrently increased our consumer expectations. However, this (surprise surprise) HASN’T been matched by a decrease in customer complaints.

If only that call centre operator in the Phillipines had informed me of the opportunity to submit to this enquiry.

Submissions close 5.00pm Friday 10 September (2010).