The vicious cycle of supply and demand

Perhaps most intriguing among Howard Rheingold’s (2014) first chapter on attention was positioning of intellect versus knowledge. Specifically in relation to the scattered, snippet forms of content available through search engines, the author states that “Sometimes you want an answer…and sometimes you want knowledge…” (p.52). Perhaps the overwhelming availability of information has instilled an expectation that answers matter more than process, thus continuing a cycle of shallow inquiry.

The idea of “…shallow inquiry—the uninformed way in which many people use search engines to find answers” (Rheingold, 2014, p.53), is perpetuated by the innate human habit of multitasking. Technology has, I would suggest, merely augmented

The cycle: As more content is available, more content is demanded. Source:

an age-old human trait. History repeats itself, and if the continual lose of our “…capacity as a society for deep, sustained focus…” is leading cultures “…toward[s] a new dark age” (Rheingold, 2014, p. 56), then would it not be advantageous to observe history to predict what will happen next? Sherry Turkle’s (2012) overarching premise in “Alone Together”, is that human expect more from technology and less from each other. However, in light of Rheingold’s (2014) assertion that technology has “…encouraged the development of a culture of simultaneity…” (p. 56), I would ask what role human expectation has plays in the process of shallow inquiry. Is it that more content is expected at a faster pace, and heightened access to more information demands faster results. In a very basic sense, it is the idea of supply and demand. More information is supplied, and the natural tendency is to demand more in order to increase supplied content.

What do you think? Is the cycle of scanning information versus wrestling with knowledge a cyclical problem? Is it a problem?

Posted on October 19, 2014, in Literacy, Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. In my experience with authoring software documentation, users like to scan information to get an immediate task done and then review the rest of information at a later time. This is why we chunk our content in DITA by task, concept, and reference. The idea that we can only hold seven (+/- two) chunks of information reminds me of the Information Mapping method. As such, we try to keep all of our tasks to nine or less steps.

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