première: our extreme present

“Your blog is now one in seven billion blogs”

Well, not really. It is more like one in 200 million. But what Basar, Coupland, and Obrist probably meant when they stated this in The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to The Extreme Present is that we lose our individuality when we are online; in the Internet, we become more like everyone else:

“Reading is an activity that fosters a strong sense of individualism and it created the 20th century.
The Internet instead fosters a sense of being one unit among seven billion.”

The book paints an astonishing picture of our future present, with information and big data playing a central role in shaking things up. With photos, collages, and manifesto-like text, the authors discuss:

• the amazing amount of energy required to keep our electronic life running: “transporting data now uses 50% more energy than world aviation”
• our new ways of experiencing time&space: ” ‘How old are you?’ ‘I’m seven iPhones old’ “
• the “post-analog condition” we are living in: reflections on information behaviour and about the implications of being connected 24/7
• identity, individuality & (the sense of) collectivism, anonymity

And many passages turn out to be amazingly simple (and often depressing) definitions of ourselves; descriptions we can easily relate to:

“Knowing everything turns out to be slightly boring”

Oh, yes! Is there a better reason for the existence of all those unread books on our shelves? Some of them that will never actually be read, at least not by us, although we feel quite attached to the looks of their spines?

But why should we from Library&Information Science care about this extreme present we are living in, and about our post-analog condition?

• because digital technology and the Internet have profoundly changed librarians, library users, and libraries. In fact, librarians have always been welcoming to new technologies and found ways of incorporating them to the library; let’s not forget that in history many librarians were actually the ones creating and developing these technologies. Understanding the way we are living this post-analog reality is important to guarantee that we keep being relevant. As R. Rubin put it in Foundations of Library and Information Science, “the challenge of all professionals is to stay current in a world in flux”.
• because if we don’t own it, we’ll be owned. New technologies and the Internet are a matter of comprehend it or drown. If we library&information people don’t worry about these issues, well, there are many others who surely do: corporations and governments. We should’t let the market or shady policies decide which way our digital society goes. And we shouldn’t let ourselves down thinking our discipline doesn’t matter because of Google: it matters even more because of it. As Rubin described, when librarians noticed that their library’s computers were often used to access social media websites, they asked themselves “Could the library create its own social presence?”. When it comes to the Internet world, understanding enables action.
• because isn’t reflecting on what and how to preserve and document in this new “post-analog condition” a task for the library&information science professional?



obrist_book-cover     foundations

Basar, Coupland, Obrist, 2015, The age of earthquakes, A guide to the extreme present, First edn, Penguin, London.
Rubin, R., 1949 2016, Foundations of library and information science, Fourth edn, Facet Publishing, London.

6 thoughts on “première: our extreme present

  1. I really like this post Mariana! You have understood what we were discussing very well; that we can lose our sense of individuality amongst all the digital, but that we cannot now function (as professionals) without it. The question (to which I have no definitive answer..) is how to work with it. Great to hear a bit about what you are reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yey, great to have such a reply to the post! Thank you! I was actually quite hesitant about it, so it’s a relief to know I didn’t miss the point completely… I’m finding the discipline very intriguing, looking forward to the next classes and books—Floridi’s The 4th Revolution is next in line! (:


  2. Welcome to blogging! I loved this line; “because if we don’t own it, we’ll be owned. New technologies and the Internet are a matter of comprehend it or drown.”

    Liked by 1 person

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