Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thoughts on Creativity and the Internet Age

I don't want to come across as some fire-breathing Luddite, but I sometimes wonder about the 'Age of the Internet'.  Thanks to the Web, and the associated rise in the personal computer, we - and I mean the royal We - have access to vast swaths of information that was unfathomable just a few decades ago.  And thanks to the iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle, and various other portable devices, that wealth of data is now available at our literal touchscreen fingertips.

As an aside, I've been involved with computers since the tender age of ten (or so - it's a little cloudy after all these years).  Back then, a Commodore Pet computer was about as advanced as it got for a private user.  I never imagined, even with my early experiences of  programming and running a BBS system (a modem based bulletin board system for all you youngsters), that computers would ever become so popular.  Back then it was a landscape of freaks and geeks who played with that kind of primitive hardware.

But with the rise of all this information, I haven't exactly seen the expected creativity flood.  Sure, there are some improvements in technology utilizing collaborative efforts, but I'm talking more right-brain here.  Where is the art?  Where is the better music?  The brilliant novels?  The old cultural gatekeepers are either dead or dying, allowing anyone with an idea to put it out there.  But instead of a shining burst of inspiration, we seem to be sinking into a morass of self-indulgence.

Perhaps it is the sheer number of choices we have now.  We are becoming a world of ADD sufferers, looking for any fix to correct our need for a constant stream of different entertainment.  Instead of taking time to explore the new, we are actually seeking the familiar - music that is already known to our ears, movies with standard plots, the novel with cardboard characters, and art that is easy on the eyes. 

It could be that the Internet - and the tools we use to access it - is funneling our imagination and creativity in unexpected ways.  As time passes, it will be interesting to see what cultural relics and icons will still hold up from this age of data overload.

As always, comments and criticism are welcome.

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