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Posts Tagged ‘President Barack Obama’

Information Overload? Obama Tells Graduating Class TMI Becoming a ‘Distraction’

In media on May 10, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Yesterday, President Barack Obama gave a commencement address to Hampton University’s 2010 graduating class. The president urged students to stay “informed and engaged,” saying the American experiment “depended on the participation of its people.”

However, before bemoaning apathy and ignorance, Obama ironically bemoaned information itself, telling students they are coming of age in a “24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments.”

This 24/7 environment coupled with the explosion of technology is making information a distraction rather than a means of empowerment, according to the president.

“So all of this is not only putting pressure on you, it’s putting new pressure on our country and our democracy,” he said.

Basically, Obama is suggesting Americans today are suffering from information overload.

The idea of information overload is nothing new. In 1755, French philosopher and contributor to the Encyclopédie, Denis Diderot, wrote about the explosion of information and its negative effects on the population:

“As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe.”

If only Diderot was here to witness the internet.

However, more than 250 years later, human history has been proven the French philosopher wrong.

There exists today more information and greater access to that information than ever before. But contrary to Diderot’s prediction, human beings and societies have adapted to the ever increasing onslaught and access to data. We, as a species, have evolved.

As writer for the Social Computing Journal Stowe Boyd points out in his article “The False Question Of Attention Economics, the idea of information overload is a false one:

“The human mind is exceptionally plastic, especially when young people are exposed to media and symbolic information systems at an early age.”

As technology and access to data continue to increase, so too, will information critics such as the president. However, what these critics fail acknowledge is the power of the human mind to collect, sort and store information deemed relevant.

To be sure, the human mind cannot absorb and store a limitless amount of information. But in a day an age where technology is exploding, let us remember that knowledge is power and push the human mind to its limits.

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Liberals ‘Losing Hope’

In protest, war and peace on April 20, 2010 at 9:04 pm

“Obamas message of hope and change, so exciting a year ago, now rings hollow for those of us hoping he would usher in an era of peace.” — Medea Benjamin, Cofounder, CODEPINK

I was beginning to lose faith in the anti-war left and those that pride themselves progressive. But just as conservatives and libertarians became abhorred with George W. Bush’s and the neo-cons’ unique brand of conservatism, so it seems many on the left are beginning to see through Obama’s liberal facade.

Liberals are losing hope — and gaining insight.

In fact, Losing-Hope.org is a website entirely dedicated to reviewing and criticizing the Obama administrations’ empty promise for “change” and pressuring the president to make good. It was created by the women of CODEPINK and boasts a list of liberal supporters.

The website’s homepage meets visitors with a letter addressed to the president titled Losing Hope, Taking Action. The letter asks Obama to “stand up to corporate interests” and bemoans the failed foreign policies of the previous administration being continued by the current:

“In 2008, I was one of millions united for hope and change. As 2010 dawns, change looks to me like more of the same.  Instead of peace, we got more war.  Instead of healthcare reform, we have an industry win that requires Americans to buy health insurance without any real cost controls.”

It’s encouraging to see those on the left waking up to the failed promise that is Barack Obama. Hopefully, they will not repeat the mistake of their conservative counterparts and forget the painful truth their own party has revealed to them.