Friday, 18 May 2012

Too much information

In the early Nineteen Eighties, the Labour Party was a mad place. Branch meetings would start at 7.30 and then continue almost indefinitely until one faction or another, if only by a process of attrition, reckoned they had the temporary majority to call a vote.

And I was there. As physically fit as anybody present; if, admittedly, still someway short  of the fitness of the general population.

But that was what you did. You went to your work; you finished your work; you came home; you had your tea and then you went out to a "meeting".

And then you went to the pub; had a few pints; went home and then went to your bed.

And the next day you did it all again. 'til the weekend, when you went "out".

I was also, however, at that time, a busy lawyer. In terms of caseload, probably busier than today. Yet I still got home and had my tea and had time to go forward for the evening.

Today, that lifestyle is almost inconceivable. If I am lucky, I get home from work in time for the Channel 4 News at 7pm. And instead of going out to a meeting I then have to digest, one way or the other, the cacophony of information then available. The C4 news itself; the Guardian that has arrived after I departed  in the morning; but most overwhelming of all, the legion which is the Internet. Not just twitter but the infinity of its links; the correspondents demanding response and the simple suggested avenues inviting investigation.

And then, of course there is the temptation to check your email, where, at best, friends and, at worst, clients communicate with an urgency of response on their part if not on yours.

I'm prompted to this thought by the overload which overcame me on Wednesday. For, in addition to all of the above, there was suddenly a new episode of Lewis seducing my attention and, in the midst of all this, a very good book which I had started but was no way from finishing. Having just managed to take it all in I sat down to write a blog, actually this blog, and promptly conked out on the settee.

It would be nice to have been able to compartmentalise this: giving the time to one or other activity only what it deserved, in much the same way as anxious souls are separated out from legitimate litigants in my day to day practice. Except that in my day to day practice clients come, generally, at their appointed hour. In my own time it all seems to come at once. Because, generally, it does.

I increasingly wonder however what is the point of all this information. Or at least where the point of overload will be reached. I'd like to now go on and reach some conclusion worthy of Machiavelli but, actually, I need to check my email.

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