The shower of data
When I was a kid at summer camp, a letter was as precious as gold (or perhaps candy). If you got five letters in a week, you were rich. Most of the time, we stood by the mailroom, plaintively waiting to see if there was some sort of message from the outside world--only to walk away disappointed.
Back home, missing a TV show was out of the question. If you didn’t see this episode of Mannix or Batman, it was likely you’d never get a chance, ever again.
And so we came to treat incoming data as precious. A lost email was a calamity. Reading everything in your RSS feed was essential. What if I miss something?
A new generation, one that grew up with a data surplus, is coming along. To this cohort, it’s no big deal to miss a tweet or ten, to delete a blog from your reader or to not return a text or even a voice mail. The new standard for a vacation email is, “When I get back, I’m going to delete all the email in my box, so if it’s important, please re-send it next week.”
This is what always happens when something goes from scarce to surplus. First we bathe in it, then we waste it.