David M. Levy, a professor at the University of Washington’s Information School in Seattle, tames his addiction to e-mail and the Internet by avoiding all computers during the Sabbath and advises others to take 24-hour breaks. (Blaine Harden — The Washington Post)
I can identify with David. I get so much email, much of it spam, but enjoy checking email, hate deleting spam, but hope I get a “real” email so I can read it, sort it, and/or reply to it. Web sites – I can scan web sites all day, but my challenge is finding interesting web sites.
Then there’s typing – once I do an interview – I’ve got to type up the story.
Do I have information overload? Sure? Do I mind? Not really. Should I? Probably.
Washington Post writes “The pace of life feels morally dangerous to me,” Richard Ford, the novelist, wrote six years ago.
It has only gotten worse since then, complains David M. Levy, a victim of information overload who is also a computer scientist at the University of Washington’s Information School.
Levy is all but helpless, he says, when new e-mail arrives. He feels obliged to open it. He is similarly hooked on the news, images and nonsense that spill out of the Internet. He is also a receiver and sometimes a transmitter of “surfer’s voice,” the blanched prattling of someone on the phone while diddling around on the Web.
“We are living lives of Web fragments,” he said. “We don’t remember that it is part of our birthright as human beings to have space and silence for our thoughts.”
Levy is fed up and starting Monday night — with the help of cardiologists, monks, storytellers, hypertext editors, Zen masters and a choir — he is doing something about it. He has organized a conference here called “Information, Silence and Sanctuary,” which will diagnose and prescribe treatment for what is ailing Levy — and, in his view, most of the developed world.