My daughter’s got a smartphone, because, well, everyone has. It has GPS on it, because, well, every one does. What this means is that she will never understand the concept of being lost.
Think about that for a second. She won’t ever even know what it means to be lost.
Every argument I have in the pub now goes for about ten minutes before someone says, right, we’ve spent long enough arguing now, someone look up the correct answer on Wikipedia. My daughter won’t ever understand the concept of not having a bit of information available, of being confused about a matter of fact.
A while back, it was decreed that telephone directories are not subject to copyright, that a list of phone numbers is “information alone without a minimum of original creativity” and therefore held no right of ownership.
What instant access to information has provided us is a world where all the simple matters of fact are now yours; free for the asking. Putting data on the internet is not a skill; it is drudgery, a mechanical task for robots. Ask yourself: why do you buy technical books? It’s not for the information inside: there is no tech book anywhere which actually reveals something which isn’t on the web already. It’s about the voice; about the way it’s written; about how interesting it is. And that is a skill. Matters of fact are not interesting — they’re useful, right enough, but not interesting. Making those facts available to everyone frees up authors, creators, makers to do authorial creative things. You don’t have to spend all your time collating stuff any more: now you can be Leonardo da Vinci all the time. Be beautiful. Appreciate the people who do things well, rather than just those who manage to do things at all. Prefer those people who make you laugh, or make you think, or make you throw your laptop out of a window with annoyance: who give you a strong reaction to their writing, or their speaking, or their work. Because information wanting to be free is what creates a world of creators. Next time someone wants to build a wall around their little garden, ask yourself: is what you’re paying for, with your time or your money or your personal information, something creative and wonderful? Or are they just mechanically collating information? I hope to spend 2013 enjoying the work of people who do something more than that.
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