Spanning the Digital Divide: Accessibility and Information Overload

I spent an hour this afternoon searching through Youtube trying to find new music to replace the tired old tracks in our cars CD changer (because our 2004 Audi isn’t fully automated).  And while I know there’s good music, it seems like I can never find it.  Sifting through the sand and finding no jeweled pebbles to place in my pocket.  For while there is good art out there, easy digital accessibility and self-production means there’s also so much. When I was in middle school we would wait for months for a single CD to come out, and then listen to the same CD – and the same few dozen songs – for a year or longer.  Now there are millions produced every month, if you count the endless covers and remixes – producing, reproducing.

Though born only four years apart, my sister and I have diametrically different experiences with digital life.  I was born in the late 80’s, first experienced e-mail in black and green, remember waiting hours just to download a single song (only to have it crash), have actual memories of AOL messenger, and wasn’t able to access Facebook until I had a university e-mail address.  I had a series of penpals, and wrote all my letters by hand through high school.  Kindles that looked like they had crashed off a Soviet Satellite were introduced to my college in a pilot study my senior year, and the iPad didn’t come out until I graduated.  According to a housemate participating in the pilot study, the Kindle project was also a complete flop.

I grew up in an era where information moved a little slower, but also where more time was put into a single creation.  And while I love the accessibility we have now – to movies across the world, to previously inaccessible language material, to statistics, to academic journals, to music (once we can find it), to news that comes without local bias (or with a different location’s local bias), it does seem too that there’s often such a rush to produce fresh content. Catchy, engaging, new, contemporary – but sometimes so slapstick. There may be more news, but so much of it is filler (or just not news at all – what is Buzzfeed?).  A lot of social media/copywriter job ads I’ve seen require pumping out four or more articles a day; how is it possible to do that and still create well-written and noteworthy content? Or is it just content?

So my music search continues as my memory for names fails me. Somehow, somewhere out there, there is something I want to listen to again and again again, if only I can find it amidst all this noise and light.


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