If you have not noticed, we live in an era called “the information age”. It is so called because we add value more often by information development and exchange. That is confidently called knowledge acquisition. I hear it over and over again, that we are learning faster and faster. It is indeed,a revolution! A quiet one, but a revolution, none the less.
But is it? The truth is that humans do not like learning. We do not in general wake up craving the another go at the classroom. That is not me saying this, it is Dan Kahneman, Nobel Prize winning behavioral psychologist. We learn as little as possible.
And what are we doing instead? We are doing what we have evolved to do. We experience stuff. We shop, we travel, we dine out, we chat with friends, and so on. We are active.
This is interesting because it suggests there is a certain tension between the digital world — pushing more and more information around — and the world that we want — where we are empowered to moronically just do stuff.
Some think that this tension will be resolved in favor of experience.
Twenty-five years after the introduction of the World Wide Web, the Information Age is coming to an end. Thanks to mobile screens and Internet everywhere, we’re now entering what I call the “Experience Age.”
Is it so? My own guess is that we will embrace digital tools that empower more experiences. We have been doing that for as long as tools were being invented. It is no surprise, for example, that the car turned out to be much more than the utilitarian transport machine that Henry Ford imagined it would remain. Al Sloan right. cares were lifestyle enabling. So too will technology.
Will we be better off for it? we will if we begin to understand more clearly what it is about experience that is so enthralling. As Kahneman points out, it is not the experience itself. It is the memory that the experience enables. We love the experiences that give us the best memories. Those memories — which btw are not the same thing as what happened — are the stories of our lives.
Information and the information age fall short in facilitating development of great memories. The critique that we spend far too much time staring into computer screens is well founded. But that will not mean less reliance on digital technology. Wendell Berry and back to reality movements will remain niche players. We will reach out to more powerful versions of digital technologies that empower us to do what we want, whatever that may be.