It is widely advertised that humanity has entered the Information Age. It is true that more and more “stuff” is out there on the Internet. With a click of a button, any subject material could be looked up. Despite the fact that so much is available at anyone’s finger tips, it is still a little bit of a mystery what information really mean. Is everything information that is available on the Internet? What is information anyway? And how does it influence a writer? I am not actually trying to focus on the content of the writing, here, but the information that can inform a writer about her career.
According to the most common dictionary definition of information, information is “knowledge that you get about someone or something: facts or details about the subject”. According to Frank Webster, “information is meaningful; it has a subject; it is intelligence or instruction about something” (Webster, 2014, p. 29). Hence, it appears that not all “stuff” on the internet is information. After all, the gossips on Facebook or an attempt at bullying a classmate or co-worker is not information. It is useless junk.
What separates information from the rest of the junk out there? It seems that it is certainly not the quantity or speed at which all the “stuff” is out there. Gossips are available in large quantity and bullying is happening with almost at the speed of light nowadays. Rather than quantity, it is the quality that makes all the difference. If a person is capable of gaining a meaningful detail or fact about a subject material that enriches her knowledge, it can be considered information.
How does the distinction between the “stuff” and information out there influence a writer’s career? Looking at the available reading material; that is, the “stuff” out there; for example, about the possibility of making it as a successful writer, an emerging writer might never actually pass beyond the emerging stage. All the statistics about the possibility of getting published or getting an agent is so discouraging that most potentially talented writers might give up before they ever begin to write. The story about independent publishing is not better. Scarring emerging writers away by explaining them that most writers never sell more than one hundred copies of their books is not exactly inspiring. Feeding people the image that it is too hard to make it is not necessarily a matter of realism, based on fact; rather, it can be easily construed as pessimism, based on opinion.
Statistics are statistics, they say to defend themselves. However, these are just selective statistics and selective presentations on the matter. For example, these presentations almost never include the so-called reality about the details of succeeding, such as persistence, solid educational background or practice. Hence, writers almost never get a meaningful prognosis about the possibility of their future fate. The available material on the topic of a writer’s career is fragmented, selective and biased. The “stuff” out there is simply not informative!
What can writers do? Do not read a lot to get the big picture! More is not better! Remember, it is quality that counts and not quantity! Focus on sites that are reputable, as opposed to sensationalists, and focus on reputable writers who examine all sides of a question, as opposed to scaremongers who are trying to shock emerging writers with their so-called reality! Being informed does not mean reading greater quantity of “stuff”. It means reading meaningful details and facts presented in a fair and balanced manner. In short, it means being informed.
The Information Age is not always informative. So, focus on quality and not on quantity! Avoid the unnecessary stuff on the Internet!
Webster, F. (2014). Theories of Information Society, 4th ed. London: Routledge