Tip vs. bottom of iceberg

April 15, 2007 7:57 pm

Steve Rubel talked about the New Digital Divide a long time ago(http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/MicroPersuasion/~3/65173015/americas_new_di.html.) 75% of online users have broadband, according to msnbc (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16174787/), yet most of those empowered people are “passive” users of the Internet. 35% of Americans post photos online and only eight percent have published a blog.

This reminded me of something one of my literature teachers in high school used to illustrate how we know what we know about people who lived in times past.

How is history recorded? Think back to the middle ages or even some hundred years later. How do we know anything about this time? From artifacts that survived. From documents that survived. Who produced those documents? Probably the top 1% of the population at the time, who were wealthy enough and powerful enough to be educated enough to write and had money to spend on producing documents. So history is necessarily skewed in a certain way. We can’t possibly know exactly what the general population was thinking and experiencing. We only know about the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

Now the potential is there. Publishing your thoughts is as easy as going to the library, opening a free blogging account at one of the many blog hosting companies, and starting to write. You can be more sophisticated and buy your own domain name, have your own computer to do the writing on, or perhaps even hosting your own server on your high-speed Internet connection at home. But it’s not necessary.

We have the potential of learning about the bottom of the iceberg, and yet it seems like only few people are embracing the idea (at least according to the statistics above.)

And maybe it’s for the best. I personally have enough trouble following the thoughts recorded on about a hundred blogs, reading the newspaper, following a few TV shows (time-shifted, of course) and reading books. I couldn’t possibly be a productive person at work if I were to do any more, and even with my current load I feel a bit overwhelmed. The trick is picking the right mix of “tip of the iceberg” material.

One Response to “Tip vs. bottom of iceberg”

Kathy wrote a comment on May 1, 2007

I find that blogging requires not just web access, but also time and inclination. It really is just one of a thousand ways we can choose to spend our time.

This quote from a Heinlein novel captures my personal sentiments about journalling, and I think it applies to blogging to some degree: “People who are busy and happy don’t write diaries; they are too busy living.” (Of course, I just started my own blog a couple months back, right? 😉

I have a philosophy about physical clutter that I suspect may apply to information clutter, too. It’s this: sometimes it’s not good enough just to find new and improved ways of filtering or organizing the clutter. Sometimes you just have to chuck stuff out entirely.

Care to comment?

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