Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Shame and Forgetting Draft

In the story “Shame and Forgetting in the Information Age” by Charles Baxter he leads the reader through why he believes that the over saturation of information we get today has a huge effect on our memory. The epigraph of this story, “we have transformed information into a form of garbage” by Neil Postman, lets us know right away how technology has changed who we are and how we are shaped by the Information age. When we are constantly bombarded with information we lose a lot of our own memories and this sometimes can result in shame. Baxter has chosen to break his piece into five parts to get his point across.
In part one, Baxter takes a more personal approach and tells us a story about his brother. His brother Tom passed away at the age of fifty-nine from a heart attack. His brother’s life, to say the least, was in shambles. Besides his health problems his financial situation was a mess, but even though the chips were stacked against him he was cheerful and upbeat. “Every week over the phone I’d ask him how he was, and he’d say, “Not too bad for an old man!” Tom was an outcast of the information age.”(Baxter Pg.141)
Tom had trouble in school because he had a problem learning printed information. This was before they coined the term “learning disability.” Reading and writing gave him troubles and before he knew it he was thrown into the computer age. “He had a computer and claimed he didn’t know how to use it. For years, long after I had begged him to stop, he would introduce himself exuberantly as “the dumb brother.”I was stricken by the phrase, made heart-sick by it, and by his efforts to turn this source of shame into an identifying badge.”(Baxter Pg. 141) This is a great example of how the Saturation of technology can cause people to feel left out, and even feeling of stupidity.
One of the other things that Baxter tries to get across to the reader is how technology is taking the place of our own memories. “”Your memory, can now in casual conversations refer to your computer’s memory rather than your own. This usage signals a conflation in the way that we think about the data we remember, as opposed to what we would call “our memories.””(Baxter Pg.145) Baxter knows that people don’t really refer to their own memories as data, he just wants to make the point that the two memories, data memory and information data, get all crossed in our minds. When this happens we can lose things that we want to remember opposed to the useless data that we confront in everyday life.
“The technology of data processing has increased exponentially year by year, resulting in high-speed forms of planned obsolescence in software programs (Windows, ect.) and in the computers themselves. The only frustrating limit to this technology, one CEO told me, is the speed of light, which is now too slow.”(Baxter Pg. 145) I believe Baxter is trying to show the reader how technology today will never be enough. It seems that there will be an ever turning, money making cycle of information technology that we will have to learn to live. One of the main things I think is that we are slaves to this technology. There is no way around it. If you want to go to college you need to be very proficient on how to use a computer, if not, you will struggle. After college you have to still know these skills for your job, if you don’t, this will cause your employer to spend more money on you to train you, thus making you less employable. Baxter has a good point after you have read what he has to say, and then you go back to the epigraph “We have transformed information into a form of garbage.” I believe this is true, and will be true for years to come.

1 comment:

  1. i like how yoyu incorporated the neil postman quote into your essay, mines was rather similar to yours.