Information density & time

The text below is the opening paragraph of The Convivial Society email newsletter, which was sent out this week:

Here’s an analogy for your consideration. Just as physical density bends time, so does information density bend the experience of time. (Disclaimer: I’m not a physicist and don’t pretend to understand general relativity.) What I’m trying to get at with this possibly suspect analogy is that when digital media compresses the amount of information we encounter during a given period of time, which is what I mean by information density, our sense of the passage of time gets weird. How long ago did something happen? What happened yesterday for that matter? In what order did a set of events happen? Are we just getting collectively worse at judging such matters? I’m not inclined to think so. Instead, I’d argue that this is an effect of information density in digital media environments, or, as it has been said, the medium is the message.

I like this metaphor a lot! It is simple and easy to understand. It also does what a good metaphor does best: comparing two things in a way that makes someone experience both things in a new and unexpected way.

Beyond being a good metaphor, what the post is getting at makes sense to me. The way gravity changes the way space-time works could be said for information density changing the way time is experienced by subjects today.

This is something that I suspect I’ll keep thinking about for a bit.

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