Mark Evans feels digitally inundated today. The massive amount of constantly updated information, particularly from the firehose of data produced by social networking sites from Delicious to Flickr to Facebook) is crushing him. He points to a post by Techcrunch blogger Eric Schonfeld (curiously, someone I knew in college) about Friendfeed in which Schonfeld similarly calls for help (actually he says “kill me now”).
To be sure information overload is a major issue for us today. But here’s another danger with the “new economy”: as we’ve converted to a service economy, we’ve produced so much “experience” that we’re massively overloaded. Not only are we overloaded by all these feeds, we’re overloaded by experiences. We pile signature work of architecture atop signature work of architecture, smash movie on smash movie, fashion on fashion, gadget on gadget. But we’re bored of it. Crisis in capitalism are typically crisis of over-accumulation: too much money has been made (not by you) and people stop spending. This crisis is a bit more complex, but make no mistake, there is massive over-accumulation out there. Apart from all the cheap junk produced in China by exploited laborers, there has been far too much experience out there. Please, we don’t want anymore. In high school in the 80s, stuck in a rural community in Western Massachusetts, I was bored to tears by the lack of information around me. Connectivity, at that point, was over a 2600 baud modem so you can imagine how limited that was. Still, it was a lifeline. Today I can be endlessly amused until the end of my years by what’s already available online, I don’t need anymore. Sometimes sharing is not caring.
I called the collapse of the real estate market years ago (some day I’ll check to see when, but I’m pretty sure it was before Nouriel Roubini, no offense intended). I’m calling the collapse of the experience economy. Moreover, it has already happened.