Fri, 09/04/2015 - 9:15am
We’re inundated on a daily basis with incoming information.

Our gadgets have taken over both lobes of our brains with a relentless barrage of facts, figures and scads of minutiae. Once we get Facebooking or tweeting and texting and emailing, it is a wonder that we can think in a coherent manner. It is also a wonder that we aren’t all talking using fragmented and truncated sentences. There are some very high IQs in Silicon Valley at this very moment, working on the latest app discoveries. They are coding and compressing data for us! Cool! These engineers are doing all they can do to continue to expedite the serving up of incoming data so we really don’t have to do anything. We have a Pu Pu Platter of disposable content on a daily basis. It’s served faster than we can consume it.

On the gadgets, information is given to us whether we want it or not. Advertising on the internet is relentless. There are some guestimates regarding how many ads we see, which range from 2,000 to 5,000 per day. (See Yankelvich Research.) Besides the internet, we see ads on T-shirts, sneakers, billboards, sky writing, television, magazines, newspapers, sandwich boards et al. Our brains can only process so much incoming information; however, advertisers will twist up slogans, jingles and assorted imagery in all forms of the Mass Media, to connect us to a product or an idea. Buy sell, buy sell!

So, we need to sort through the incoming data. We must become our own gatekeeper and editor — use what we want and discard the rest. We can, however, fast forward through the incoming information. For example, we can skip on the binge viewing of cable programing unless we value the content—it’s our call. And, we can wait three or four seconds before we skip some innocuous spew of information about a car or hair product that we clearly don’t want as it appears when we really aren’t interested. Binge viewing has such a negative connotation, and pop up ads on the gadgets redefine intrusive. Enough! Let us not forget that all of this incoming and oh so important information of making choices requires a precious commodity — time. We do have a choice in the aforementioned matter. We can shut down the gadget and maybe read a book — a big fat book.

Over the course of this summer I had a few conversations in the stand-by lot about a couple of interesting tech guys in our world. For example, one Sunday, I got talking with a bright electrical engineer and we got talking about Steve Jobs, and his partner Steve Wozniak. I picked his brain because he seemed pretty informed—the gadgets fascinate me. In the mail a few weeks later a copy of Steve Jobs’ biography ended up in the freight office. The guy sent me the book. This is ahem, a big fat book—look out for what you wish for, right? As a result of the partnership and smarts of Jobs and his pal Wozniak, there came products for the passage of information. We know what they are, and yes they are amazing. The iPhone is a culmination of Jobs’ vision for a user-friendly product cutting across all demographics. The internet has something for everyone and it’s delivered on the quick. Again, the idea of sifting through the content of the information, which is constantly “incoming,” presents its challenges.

Recently my daughter was visiting from San Francisco. We like talking about books and anything relating to comedy or pop culture in general. The subject of podcasts came up and Emily was selling me on merits “The Nerdist.” “Dad, this Chris Hardwick guy is sharp and really funny, you need to check this guy out,” she said. She continued explaining about some of the guests he had on his show. One guy she raved about is a guy named Mike Judge. Judge created the show “Silicon Valley,” for HBO—my favorite satirical show of the moment. My daughter is a big fan of the show also; like father like daughter. This guy Judge came out of the same scene as Jobs and Wozniak, and worked as an engineer and animator. He also created another satirical romp about two animated renegade guys named “Beavis and Butt-Head.” Whattacountry!

The discussion with my daughter about “Silicon Valley,” helped me sift through the decision making of where to use my time, and she also helped me understand some of the real culture of Silicon Valley. Moreover, all of our discussion returned to Steve Jobs and Wozniak — the genuine articles. When I received the Jobs’ biography I took a picture of it with my iPhone and sent it to my daughter along with a text message. My daughter also enlightened me in regards to an app called Hulu. She rigged up my iPhone so I can now watch Seinfeld episodes at will—bonus! 

About 15 years ago, Captain Don Rooney and I and some other guys would have extensive discussions about the HBO show “The Sopranos.” In the dead of winter this helped the clock move a little faster as we discussed the story and character arcs of the show.  We labored over what evil doings Richie Aprile had planned for Tony — but the writers had other plans for poor Richie. He got killed by Tony’s sister, Janice — a tangled web was weaved.  Every Sunday, Don would have a VHS tape with a few episodes taped for me. I didn’t have cable, but I had a cool VCR! He’d flip me the tape and I’d scurry home and watch the episodes, and then we’d discuss the show at the docks later in the week. This went on for years. Now, I can Youtube my favorite clips (bad pun intended) of “The Supranos.’” Finally, I’ve embraced the gadgets, and will also continue to sift through the incoming information and the increasing numbers of apps and seek golden internet content.