This is the point where the topic delves into what might at first seem unrelated - that is commodity culture. However, from the various comments made on the previous post, it seems that we almost naturally connect the lack of deep focus, attention span, and consumerism.
As Voland indicated, there seems to be a link between the Information Age, nifty technology, and the need to own the latest bits of technology. Additionally, it seems that in the era where information is king, it is also at the top of commodities. Yes, we've always paid for our information, but the argument might be made that in the past, we expected much more information when we paid for it. An example of paying for information is education, books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and myriad other sources. But somewhere along the way, information became shallow, and varied quantity became more important. I like to term this as "bullet point data." Basically, the best information today is deemed to be that which can be summarized by bullet point sentences:
- Information is good
- Conveying the information must be quick
- Information comes at a price
- The "price" of information should not be our time
This has also spread across every form of entertainment, and what is traditionally considered "news." While most of you might not consider this entertaining, try reading the novel 1984 while listening to any cable news network. It is surprising how many times the Ministry of Truth sounds like any given news channel. The problem is, in 1984, the Ministry of Truth was just the opposite - it was a ministry of untruths. And this is perhaps necessary today because we have very little time for long news stories. I expect most people have the span of time that it takes to drive to work to listen to news, or maybe that is done during breakfast. Or maybe not done at all, as "news" is always in the background. Snippets seem to be enough.
The argument put forth previously was that all of this is affecting us, causing people to long for surface information. It seems that deep focus, the long term, intense understanding of a topic, is not a part of our culture - particularly a culture where time and money are synonymous. The problem with this is that it leads to fabrication of data, or the filling in of the blanks. And that seems to be just fine. Meanwhile, for this reduced information, we must pay money.
Overall, it seems the Information Age is not only producing vast archives of data, but also quick methods of skimming, reducing, and condensing the data to small bits of easy to remember blurbs. It is probably drastic to predict that in the future we'll speak a reduced language, as vocabularies, sentences, and modes of communication will become brief - IMHO.
Meanwhile, as cited by many writers and philosophers for over 100 years, our culture is becoming more and more consumer based. Producing physical goods is a costly and time consuming task. And all the more so in a world where fuel prices add to the cost of shipping physical material. This leaves us with something torn out of the pages of a cyberpunk novel, where data, something almost ethereal in nature, becomes the world's greatest commodity. Transporting it and producing it is easier with a means of mining the Internet for it (opposed to mining the Earth for it). The costs of manufacture are greatly reduced because it can be digitally reproduced. This makes the Information Age and the Electronic Age a great match. Anything that exists in the "cyber world" can be produced and sold and transported at little cost, while a culture of consumers are programmed to by more and more. To store vast amounts of data on small devices, even though most of that data (music, audio, photos, contacts, games) are seldom accessed. It is a wonderful solution, a product that takes up no real physical space, and has no real physical cost to reproduce. And if the "space" it requires is filled, then another product can be sold to provide greater storage for the data that is seldom used.
It is perhaps unfair to say that we are obsessed with consuming. Instead, I'd say that we are driven by our world to consume - consuming is entertainment. After all, it is better to own DVDs, books, CDs than not to own them, even if we don't have the time to watch, read, or listen to them. In some strange way, all of this seems to be connected to a decreasing attention span, or a lack of deep focus.