Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Info-Glut: A Portrait

(Click to Expand)

I found this charcoal and pencil drawing by Laurie Lipton, an American artist currently based in London.  The drawing is really interesting in how it portrays the current "info-glut" generation with an overweight infant-like man, staring wide-eyed at a computer screen, surrounded only by wires and technology (and a fountain pop :) ).  While having such vast access to information definitely has its advantages, taking a break to analyse its negative affects is an important way to avoid any long-lasting damage that information gluttony can cause.

One main implications of our culture having so much information available at our fingertips through the internet is isolation.  As is shown above in Lipton's drawing, the subject is alone, surrounded only by machine.  Acquiring all information through the internet takes out the interaction one would experience through inquiry at a library, an expert, or more knowledgeable person.  People are entirely self-sufficient in information pursuits.  This problem of isolation can also be seen through the rise in social media.  Many relationships on one's "friend's list" are reduced to reading statuses and looking at pictures rather than in-person interaction.  Technology's impact on Information retrieval and relationships both point to the isolating result the internet has on our culture.

Any thoughts?


  1. I love this picture! I think it really illustrates the negative effects of info-glut. I also think that this take on info-glut can be tied into the fish studying water theme. It's so easy to judge other people who are engulfed with social media and technology when they bump into you because they were staring at their phone, but how often do you sit back and examine the effects of info-glut in our own lives? Sometimes, it is hard to separate what we are looking at on the internet from the living world around us.

  2. The fish in water analogy definitely applies here. Anyone looking in on the situation can see how 'out of control' it's gotten. Causes one to wonder what a bird's eye perspective might reveal about our relationship with information.

  3. I'd be interested in hearing how you might qualify the kind of isolation that you think the internet or social media might generate. Online forums, for example, certainly seem physically isolating, but they also afford opportunities for virtual community-building. It seems like there's a bit of paradox there. And thanks for the pic! For some reason, it makes me think of mutated Tetsuo at the end of Akira. Crazy flick!

  4. Chaya, while online forums provide an opportunity for virtual community-building that obviously isn't possible in face-to-face communication, the relationships built through this medium are, in my opinion, far less personal. When we communicate through technology, there is an opportunity to distance ourselves from other people. Relationships can be reduced to writing "happy birthday" on someone's wall when Facebook informs us that a "friend's" birthday is that day. This is typical, in my experience, with people who you are not that close to.

    Digital communication seems to have two results that I see. First, it makes relationships that aren't close in the first place far more distant, like in the example above. Secondly, it does make relationships between closer friends more concrete. With those who you actually do spend face-to-face time with, social media and the digital world adds another level that you can communicate with your friends. Events can be planned, plans can be made, and memories can be immortalized through pictures and "life events." This is obviously a positive aspect of digital communication. However, there is also the very real issue of impersonalized relationships as well.