Information as food

Mon 13 January 2014

Lately I've been noticing a lot of people writing and talking about information consumption by using a food metaphor (example). I was going to write a post about it until I found that someone already did a great job of that over at ribbonfarm:

http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2008/05/26/information-overload-and-the-food-is-thought-metaphor/

The article centers on metaphor theory, particularly as introduced by Lakoff and Johnson in their book Metaphors We Live By. If you haven't read it, you should read it. It will probably change the way you think about thinking significantly. The gist of the book, though, is that basic conceptual metaphors pervade our understandings and descriptions of the world. Some examples:

  • Time as money ("spending time", "saving time")
  • Arguments as war ("attacking a point")
  • Good and bad as up and down ("feeling up", "things are going downhill"). This is an example of an orientational metaphor
  • Love as a journey.

This quote from the ribbonfarm article stood out to me:

Conceptual metaphors are always partial, and highlight some features of a domain while de-emphasizing others.

This quote communicates a point that I think is pretty important, especially in relation to the ongoing, raging debate about whether all this "information overload" is good or bad for us (which I think has some merit, but also tends to contain a little too much generational pessimism). If the stream of information we are exposed to on the internet were actually food, obviously gorging on it the way many do would be quite unhealthy, and I think many people have the concerns they have about excessive information exactly because of this intuitive association of information as food. So, as the article also advises, I think it's important to be aware, when forming opinions about emerging phenomena like the internet, of the conceptual metaphors or frames of reference we bring to those phenomena in order to understand them in a personal way, and how that affects what features of that phenomena we emphasize and de-emphasize.


Brainstorming a smart house

Sat 05 October 2013

As I am about to sign my first lease on a house, I am going to have the opportunity to do something I've wanted to do for a long time: create a smart home (technically, I'm more interested in home automation projects, but that term isn't as ...

read more

Mon 02 September 2013

Government Backed Public Keys

Mon 19 August 2013

Ted Dziuba:

I already have federally-issued documentation of my citizenship, my US Passport. There ought to be a way to get my PGP key signed by the government, so I can sign my messages as an American citizen, having the government be the trusted authority on that matter.

This is ...

read more

Lunch with the Financial Times

Mon 19 August 2013

Despite it's occasional snoodiness, the article series Lunch with the Financial Times will make both your brain and your mouth salivate. I think what I like most about it is the interesting opinions that get mentioned only in passing, leaving you to do the unraveling:

Carolina Herrera

“It’s ...

read more

The Ecuadorean Library

Sun 11 August 2013

For anyone following the recent NSA leaks, this essay by Bruce Sterling provides what you might call a theatrical portrayal of the situation. It is at once wildly insightful, humorous, despairing, and hopeful. Do read.

You can tell that Manning, Assange and Snowden are all the same kind of irritant ...

read more

First Post

Sun 28 July 2013

This is either the beginning of a long blogging journey, or an optimistic first post on yet another site that I will create and eventually abandon to the depths of the internet. I hope it is the former. Here is what you can expect to hear from me should you ...

read more