An information existence theorem for the internet age

One of the consequences of the cut and paste age we live in is simply that what can't be cut, isn't.

The architect who designed and contracted for the construction of my house had to file a copy of the blueprints with the City of Lethbridge. According to the city, however, those blueprints don't exist.

The reason they don't exist is that the city invested in "computerization" and in that process wiped out its organizational ability to remember the existence of records prior to about 1995. It's not, you understand, that the records themselves have been lost or destroyed; what's happened is that the city has no institutional memory of how to locate a specific record and therefore chooses to pretend, at least to the ordinary public, that those records don't exist.

You see something similar with children who have a very hard time understanding that anything existed prior to themselves - and with all kinds of computer users for whom the old barriers to information access are so obviously insurmountable that anything not immediately available via the internet is effectively not available at all.

University students exemplify this: if google can't find it, they can't find it. Mention paper indexes and the traditional library search and what you get is polite disbelief accompanied by the complete dismissal of any reality, including yours, associated with older research sources.

Many bloggers, journalists, and consultants act the same way - especially, oddly enough, older ones. As far as they're concerned anything not an extension of something they already have access to on the internet or their own machines does not have the power to affect reality - and that includes stuff from their own previous work lost to upgrades or other computing disruptions.

In response I'd like to propose an existence theorem for information in the internet age: "if it isn't on line, it isn't."

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