Information Overload?

I just saw one of the worst movies ever. The movie is Johnny Mnemonic, with Keanu Reeves in the title role.

The acting was bad. The story was bad. The effects were bad. The futuristic make-up was stupid. And the characters were silly (imagine Dolph Lundgren as a long-haired psycho-priest assasin called Preacher).

But it's always kinda fascinating to watch an older movie about the future. The movie came out in 1995 and is supposed to take place in 2021--which means that right now, in 2007, we're almost halfway there.

In 1995 the internet was still in its infancy--ok, maybe at its toddler stage. But clearly the world was changing dramatically. All of a sudden, you could get information about almost anything, anytime, as long as you were connected to the internet.

With all these changes, there was a growing fear that people would begin to suffer from information overload.

And that's the theme that Johnny Mnemonic picks up. In the movie, which has a film-noir, post-apocalyptic feel, half of the world's population is suffering from a plague called Nerve Attenuation Syndrome (I really have no idea what that means). Halfway through the movie, we discover that you get NAS from...well...from everything--from all the computers...and stuff.

What they're trying to say is "information overload."

And then there's Johnny (Keanu's character). Johnny is an information courier with a chip in his brain that can hold--are you ready for this--a whopping 80 GB of information! Wow! And with a little tweaking he somehow crams 320 GB onto his 80 GB chip. Not really sure how that works. I don't know about you, but I have a feeling that in 2021 we're not even gonna be dealing in gigabytes anymore; we'll be way into (or even beyond) the terrabyte age.

So, anyway... overloading the chip in his brain can be fatal after a few days, and Johnny spends the whole movie trying to get the info out of his head.

So, again, there's the theme of information overload.

Of course, in 2007, we now know that there's really no danger of information overload. I'm not even sure how it would be possible to be overloaded with information. All that can really happen is that, well, you know a lot of stuff.

Instead, what we have is complete freedom of information. It is a different world than it was in 1995, and way different than it was in 1985. But clearly, open access to information is something that we (the human race) have not only adapted to and embraced, but we love it!


Russell Smith said...

Your first mistake was watching a Keanau Reeves movie..... (my favorite Keanau Reeves line comes from the Kenneth Branaugh adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing -- Reeves' character says "I am a man of few words").


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