Greenfield, Gleick and the golden road to meaning

Susan Greenfield worries about meaning. We consume wads of stuff, without joining the dots and therefore without meaning. This lack of understanding is compounded by gaming and game layers, where new lives and the ability to “undo” mistakes isn’t truthfully reflected by real life. Kids grow up thinking that life is a series of disjointed experiences. “And what does it mean to lead a life without meaning…?”, she lets the question hang.

Image by herzogbr

Image by herzogbr

James Gleick reaches the same destination from a different road in his new book The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood. He points to a friction between “meaning” and “bits” where data is abundant but the right information is elusive. The internet, our new-found Infinite Library of Everything, offers us the answer to any question, but rarely helps us pose the right questions in the first place.

All of which suggests that there’s a value gap between what’s needed and what’s available. A digital content service that encourages its audiences to intuit meaning will make its audiences smarter and grow the kind of loyalty that was once fostered by the news and entertainment industries of the twentieth century.

What we need is less the breadcrumbs of education (literally, “leading out of”) and more intuition (“looking at what is inside”). Perhaps with enough examples of services that help people understand rather than simply raise their IQ, we can put the learned minds of Susan Greenfield et al at ease that there is more to the internet than stumbling upon.

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About Morgan Holt

Morgan Holt is senior strategist at Wolff Olins, the global game-changing brand consultancy. He is also chairman of the Branded Content Marketing Association, and a non-executive director of CN Media Group.

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