The Enemy is You

08 Aug 2015

Matt Gemmell:

We live in an age of ubiquitous information and communication, so distractions have never been more pervasive. We have too many choices of what to look at or focus attention on. The internet is a glittering carnival of diversions, and that’s wonderful – until you need to get some work done.

The enemy here isn’t the net, of course; it’s you. You’re the one being distracted. Willpower can be a dwindling resource, and the problem is compounded by background noise, low blood-sugar, or a poor night’s sleep. Sometimes it’s all we can do to just check our email and maybe read the news.

There is too much information for us to experience it all, but how do we go about deciding which media are worthy of our attention? Such a task seems nigh impossible given the overwhelming plurality from which we must make our selections.

How do we orient ourselves towards satisfaction? It is difficult to be satisfied in the face of overwhelming plurality – we must try everything for ourselves. Even when we stumble upon something pleasing, the possibility remains that there is something grander or more resplendent. When situated in the discourses of capital and evolution, satisfaction, complete and total, is impossible amidst the perception of infinity. The curation of possibility attempts to overcome infinity – by limiting it. Algorithmic curation, thus far, is not concerned with satisfaction, but exposure.