My original topic of discussion for this blog was centered on the fictional work of Jorge Luis Borges, particularly the story The Circular Ruins, so I have decided to spend some more time digging into his ideas. As a result of my efforts to connect with others online about the works of Jorge Luis Borges and his relevance in the digital age, I got a very nice response in the form of a blog post from someone interested in Borges. This insightful blogger suggested how some other Borges stories could give insight into modern conditions. For example, Tlön Uqbar, Orbis Tertius deals with a collaborative encyclopedia that recalls Wikipedia, and how it strongly effects the reality of a civilization. There is a plethora of possibilities to explore.
So I decided to check out another Borges collection from the library: The Aleph and Other Stories. The titular short story deals with a man who has in his basement an "aleph", a strange artifact which allows him to perceive everything that currently exists in the world simultaneously, and his misguided efforts to describe it all in poetry. The experience that the Aleph brings is overwhelming to the narrator in the story. And here I find another analogous idea. The way information technology is developing is giving us an experience progressively closer to that of the aleph. We are becoming increasingly connected to more information from more of the world, more easily and more instantaneously. This idea, along with the comments some of my colleages and others have made, has suggested that there is a dark side to the hyperconnected digital life. I didn't really consider these implications in my more comprehensive post on the topic, even though my own recent online experiences have hinted at them. There are many millions of people and ideas online, and a lot of things to sift through, many of them not relevant or necessary. The digital experience can be overwhelming and time consuming, and we can lose our grasp on the smaller, more local realm of experience(as did the character in the story). In spite of my efforts to flesh out a strong argument, I find myself falling into a disempowering ambivalence.