Crashing laptops, infodemics and disconnections

My laptop just crashed and the PC service of our university couldn't rescue all the gigabytes of data that vanished in the air. Fortunately I have taken backup copies of most important files, so it was not a catastrophe. The service guy told me I'm among the lucky 7 % who as suspicious enough not to trust their laptops.

The curious thing is that part of me is relieved. Although I lost a lot of valuable information, like interesting articles, links, pictures and video, I'm kind of happy it's not there anymore. I will probably have to re-do many things like search for the lost articles but I will do it ad hoc, bit by bit as I come across the need for a particular piece of information.

It's old news that we live in a sea of information. Or data. Or knowledge. Whatever we want to call it, the amount of it we possess and store in our lives (in computers or filter and manage online) has grown exponentially. The problem is to get the real thing, to pick up the essential info and the significant stuff from the hurly burly.

To a techno anthropologist this brings forth a great object of research titled All the Information You Have to Deal with. An ethnography into personal data management would ask questions like how you deal with the data, what is significant information, what is fun, what is personal, what is shared (with whom). Feel free to steal the idea. Although it seems like somebody is already teaching a course about it in Indiana.

In my opinion, too much data in one's life is a sign of infodemics. However, I came across some news (read here too) about the government of S. Korea and their definition of infodemics. Like most governments of the world, Korea is worrying about its citizens being exposed to the the wrong kind of information, the stuff that gives you false conceptions of the government. This phenomenon they call infodemics, a sort of pandemic form of disinformation.

An example of infodemics was the Korean online/offline protest movement against US imported beef. The protesters feared mad cow disease but to the government it was all about anti governmental disinformation. To save the citizens from infodemics in the future the government is working on a new Cyber Defamation Law.

Tangential to my laptop crashing and infodemics is Jan Chipchase's article about opting out. Chipchase discusses how he doesn't want to be constantly located and updated in someone's network. In today's tech society he and many other people enjoy going to the pub around the corner where they are simply not in reach, and they "make a conscious effort to disconnect." Who knows, perhaps the word disconnect will be synonymous to holiday in the future - although for many today it still means little less than social disaster.

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