Lately, I find that my level of concentration has not been up to its normal level. I think there are a lot of things that contribute to this – I spend too much time online (where I don’t read as deeply as I would with a book), too much time checking for new email and too much time with the tv on in the background. I’m sadly falling out of practice when it comes to deeper thinking and concentration and I hope to remedey this soon. I need to start unplugging more and sitting down and spending more than 10 minutes on one activity.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this relatively sudden lack of concentration. I love being online but I find that it is affecting the way I think. This turned my mind back to another topic that I often think about – history. My undergrad degree is in history and I continued my studies with classical history. I often find the historian in me emerging when I think about the Internet. Maybe it also has something to do with my work in government publications too. The Internet is changing the way history is written. We can not rely on the Internet to allow us to write history in the same way – we no longer have all of the documents that we once had. It’s far to easy to delete an email or an entire document. Webpages are constantly changed.
We have become a culture of now – we rely on tv, radio, the Internet for our information but there is little being done to preserve it. It is rare to go back and compare what was already shared, although there have certainly been more moves towards preservation through such things as Google Books and Internet Archive. I recently listened to a September podcast of CBC’s Spark (yes, I am behind on my podcast listening), which discussed the nature of the Culture of Now and the influence it has on us, including an interview with Brewster Kahle of Internet Archive, which I would recommend.
Libraries pride themselves on being guardians of our past – an important role. How do we compete with a culture of now? How do we make ourselves more relevant? Certainly we have a role in preservation but is there more we can be doing to help people see and understand in a culture of now? These are not new questions but they have been on my mind of late.