I was studying for my first economics test tonight and realized there were concepts on the review sheet that:
a.) The teacher didn’t cover in class.
b.) Were not even in the book. 😒
So, obviously, to Google I go. I looked up what price equalization principle was and made the note on my study guide. As I did though, I was struck by a memory from my senior year of high school. My best friend, Paige, and I had decided to take an online class. We were literally the only two in our whole school taking the course.
It was a nightmare, our instructor was unresponsive, the lessons were ineffective in teaching us the material, and we ended up googling the answers to every assignment, and every test. To this day I say Google passed my class.
Some might say that I utilized some of the same tactics in studying for econ as Paige and I did for our online course. We googled the answers. Yet, I can tell you what price equalization principle is (the idea that economic factors will balance out across countries because of international trade), but I could not tell you for the life of me how to do any concepts I was supposed to learn in that class. I also realize that I basically just admitted to cheating in high school (whoops).
This is important because not only does it point to aspects unique to the digital environment, but it also incorporates a true aspect of rhetoric. The internet, and the digital environment in general, was started to be a wealth of knowledge. JCR Licklider first brought the idea of a “Galactic Network” to the world to connect people, and information, globally. It really does sound like science fiction. .
That was 1966, in 2016, we now have access to this idea. Sometimes it helps us fight boredom by finding funny, cute, cat videos; other times it helps us find information we need to study, or pass a class (but whatever).
The point is the internet is information in every form. The internet works because of the transmission of information between interfaces and hard drives. The internet lives because it contains information that we want. The internet will always be significant because of its ability too adapt to new information and applications of that information. That’s what the digital environment is: information.
It is the way this information affects our human experience that makes the digital environment rhetorical. We use the information to post on social media, to study for tests, to research for projects and papers, to entertain ourselves. For better or worse, this influx of constant information has major implications for our lives. It makes some Facebook junkies, it makes some cheaters, it makes some good students with good grades, it makes some criminals, and it makes some geniuses.
It’s all about intent. In one of my past classes we talked about how humans map emotions onto other things to make them sentient and introspective. I think we do this with the internet and the digital environment. I’ve heard “the internet is evil” “it controls our lives.” Well, no it doesn’t unless we let it. Cyberbullying is only a thing because we let it be. Hacking is only a thing because humans made it so. The internet is an innocent bystander of human activity (and stupidity). Just like the internet didn’t make me look up those answers, or make me study for econ. That was me. The internet was just there to give me the info I asked for.
So is there such a thing as too much information?
I don’t know, let me Google it.