Look Up

hard-timesSo, what’s happened in 150 years? Why am I so impatient with one of the greatest of writers? I love books, libraries, authors. I could spend eternity with them. Or at least four years. I studied English lit at university. Could it be that my sense of time has changed since then? Since Hard Times was written? Or has something changed about what’s being said or how it’s being said?

We were talking one morning about the quality of information versus the huge quantity of information in contemporary Western society, how we’re forced to skim the surface just to keep up–keep up to what?

In the last century, there has been an explosion of what’s being said and how it’s being said. Yet, it seems there are people who ignore that explosion, who hunt fossils or study snails or look at ancient artefacts–like ceilings in museums; they wait until everyone is gone; on the deserted main floor, in the atrium-like space, they lie down and stare up and see wondrous images painted on the ceiling a hundred years ago.

waterhouse-ceiling-from-nhm-ac-ukWhy? Why lie down and stare up at paintings on the ceiling? Why put them there in the first place? As a writer, a blogger, a communicator, I’m greatly concerned with both the quality and the quantity of information. Am I being brief but obscure, or comprehensive but verbose, or–like Goldilocks–just right? Things have to be just right, don’t they? What is ‘just right’? Unlike 150 years ago, who has time these days for either obscurity or verbosity? People who lie down and stare up, for one. image from nhm.ac.uk.

To link or not to link, that is the question. I use hyperlinks for usually one of two reasons: to reference a quote (usually the first word or the verb), or to avoid obscurity or verbosity and save time by enabling further reading (usually key words). Hyperlinking is fun. Hyperlinking is cool. Hyperlinking is risky, though. You have to trust others. It’s not your content, you don’t control it, it may change, it may even disappear (resulting in the feared 404). But apart from the mechanics, is a hyperlink the next step forward, a provider of information, or a step backwards, a mere distraction? I guess, like the folks who put images on the ceiling, I have to use my imagination, trust in myself and trust in the future, have faith in the unknown, have faith that some day someone will lie down and look up.

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