Posted by: elightkeeper | February 18, 2011

Information chippers

In an earlier post called “Generational Firewall“, I made reference to what I call “chipping”.  Wiktionary defines chipping as “the act of breaking something into smaller fragments” . Chipping is how I consume all forms of media.  The chips, in this case,  are bits of information or entertainment, or a combination of the two.

In addition to changes in my reading behaviour, I don’t watch TV or listen to music the way I used to.  Something has seriously shifted in the way I do business. If the TV is on in my house, I am almost always doing something else.  Sometimes I’m  online with social networks. Sometimes I’m reading blogs or browsing the internet for music or information.  Sometimes I’m folding laundry, working on some writing, or simultaneously reading something on my Kobo.

In my car, I have 15 satellite stations programmed into the memory of my radio. It is not uncommon for me to visit my top five stations on the way home, and sometimes more than once.  This wouldn’t be so alarming if I was on a long commute to somewhere out in the Fraser Valley.  But I live 10 minutes from work.  At the gym, it is the same thing.  If I’m listening to my iPod and hit a song I’m not in the mood for, it is shuffled away in a second.

Do you ever look at your cable service and think, “200 plus channels and nothing on”?  I do.  All the time.  Unless I am watching  a spectacular event like a gold medal game in ice hockey,  television does not get my undivided attention anymore.  It is almost impossible for networks to groom a program that I will watch from beginning to end. Even when I watched early news coverage on the crisis in Egypt, I switched between three different networks and was (initially) getting the best coverage via You Tube and Twitter feeds coming out of the country from people who were there.

When I do watch television without other distractions, I don’t stay with one program. I flip between two or three channels whenever I feel a lull in the infotainment stream or when a commercial comes on.  Some people blame the remote control for this behaviour. Channel surfing may have appeared with the invention of the remote control, but let’s not forget that it is the brain controlling the remote and not vice versa.  Don’t tell the networks that I watch CSI, Without A Trace and Cold Case all at once and keep them all straight. Twenty minutes each, about the length of a TED talk.  What does this tell you about the reliability of television ratings?  Networks beware:  This is a brave and disloyal new world you are dealing with.  You would do well to rethink your 30 minute/60 minute programming slots, among other things.

Has media and technology ruined my brain? Assuming that I do not have the attention span of a gnat – you will just have to trust me on this one – it is possible that I have acquired a new skill set, one where I can pick up information in chips and assemble my own meaning without the need for an imposed structure.  Think about that for a minute. When we look at kids – texting, not paying attention in class, listening to music while studying, tuning out of proximal conversations – we are assuming they are distracted.  Could we be misinterpreting what we see?  Could it be that they are chippers and are creating their own knowledge by gathering and assembling only the pieces of information that are of interest and of value to them?

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