Sunday, 9 November 2014

The hunter returns


infovore (English)
Origin & history
The term was introduced as a scientific term by neuroscientists Irving Biederman and Edward Vessel.
infovore (pl. infovores)
A person who indulges in and desires information gathering and interpretation.

As the information revolution drains the swamp of human iniquity we see what was always in there rotting away our good intentions, poisoning the springs of human decency. Because folk are mostly decent – the information revolution brings that out too.

As the swamp drains, the stink of it also wafts away some pretty unhealthy illusions about leadership, the elite classes, social mobility and the integrity of institutions.

In particular, many of us have become accustomed to do our own research. From checking out the reviews on the latest kids’ toy to punching holes in political speeches, to ridiculing the BBC we are becoming familiar with finding out for ourselves instead of being told.

We are becoming infovores – information hunters.

Until recently we were always somewhat isolated from sources of information. They existed, but hunting them down took far too long for any but the most committed infovore. This is no longer the case and it must surely change social and political relationships.

We are becoming more equal in the only area that really matters – our ability as knowledge hunters. We are not equal economically but we are becoming intellectually equal because knowledge is power and our leaders no longer have deference to plug the yawning gaps in their own knowledge. For example.

Global corporations need global customers.
Global bureaucracies need them too.
Global customers don’t need lying political fixers.
So which group is currently out of the loop?

It's only one perspective among many, none of which are right in themselves but some are useful some not. These days perspectives are easy to formulate, research, adjust, accept, reject, improve or shelve, much easier than they were in the relatively recent past. Much less dependent on authority too.

As for the word infovore - I came across it some years ago and looked it up as we do. Click, click and there we are. It makes a difference, probably bigger than we know.


Demetrius said...

Could sound like an Italian aria, say instead of "O Sole Mio" you have "O Infovore" and so on. But what would it sell? An ISP?

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - Italian ice-cream?

Sam Vega said...

I agree with the basic principle, but isn't it still the case that technical knowledge is so hard to master that easy glib solutions are all that most infovores will be able to glean.

Take the global warming "debate", for example. Your blog has got me interested in it, but without guidance I rapidly founder due to lack of scientific knowledge. But one dare not trust that "guidance", as it is so often politically/commercially motivated. I remain bemused as to why two camps can continue to point out "the obvious" to one another for so long, but with neither of them changing their position. Where to begin?

A K Haart said...

Sam - yes, for people without the technical background there must be a problem with the climate debate.

The sceptic side virtually requires people to accept that there may be a degree of corruption at the heart of a major scientific enterprise, at least on an intellectual level.

There are plenty of examples of intellectual mass corruption, but that doesn't help if one expects scientist to be different. I don't, but no doubt that's due to my background.

James Higham said...


Nail on the head.

A K Haart said...

James - yes, wish I'd come up with it.