Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Too Little Time

We all have lots of devices. Let’s say you only have so much time for these devices. Then, the question becomes how much is productivity and how much is maintenance? As I said in the last post, the latter has mushroomed in recent decades and now threatens to eat up more time than the former.

But there’s another activity that also takes a chunk of the time allotted to devices. I bring this up because that activity used to be a significant portion of what was then our computer time (computers were the first of these devices). If you haven’t guessed, that category is learning.

In the beginning—and I was there at the beginning—most of our computer time was spent in learning. There was very little maintenance (by comparison) because there was very little to maintain, i.e., very few computers and associated devices (we called them peripherals). Eventually, we became productive, but most of our time (for many years) was still used for learning.

Now, the only time I can afford for learning comes out of either productivity (how do I do this?) or maintenance (how do I fix this?). No longer is learning an end in itself. The window for curiosity is closed.

My concern is not how has this happened—I’ve addressed that in previous posts. It’s not even what can we do about it, because I have no idea if there’s anything we can do. Here’s my question: Is this the end? That is, without learning, without curiosity, without the freedom (of time) to pursue knowledge, how can we do anything but fall backward? Or have we already?

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