Cognitive White-Space

I started this post several weeks ago. I didn’t have time to finish it then and I don’t really have time to finish it now, only the situation has become such that nothing else is really coherent at the moment, so if I’m going to do anything productive this afternoon, it’s going to have to be this first.

I spent a couple hours this morning “catching up” in my feed reader. Yes, I said hours. My classmates presented a dizzying array of intelligent Facebook applications, educational uses for Flikr, thoughts on the merits of video across domains from cooking to calculus, and critical commentary on the purported negative effects of social media on undergraduate intellectual life. They were thorough, sentient and clever, and I was … overwhelmed.

Lately, I feel as though I have been learning without thinking. Like I go directly from reading to writing because my schedule won’t allow for pause and sleep (and my body demands sleep.) There is so much out there—even just in my classmate’s blogs–that I sometimes feel there’s no room in my head, nor time in my day, for my own thoughts. As a designer, I am perhaps inordinately fond of white-space. I fight tooth and nail to preserve it, even at the expense of legibility, information hierarchy or any number of other lesser design virtues. White-space lets a design breathe, it creates balance, adds interest, and engages imagination.

In the current media landscape, “cognitive white-space” seems also to be something one has to carve out and protect. There is always something else, if not actively competing for our attention at least ready to slip in and occupy any moment not otherwise actively occupied.

The scriptures warn of those in the last days who would be “ever learning” yet never come to the knowledge of the truth. Is it possible that we could, in this new media age, be similarly ever “sharing,” ever “creating” and yet never come to know our Creator?

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3 responses to “Cognitive White-Space

  1. SUPER Post! Believe me, I feel your “pain”! – Isn’t it great? 🙂

    I think your last question was addressed by Pres. Faust in his April 2000 conference address in a couple of paragraphs that I highlighted and shared with the NewMediaGroup in diigo.

    I also think that the scriptural directive to Be still and know that I am God” and here too encourages us to protect our spiritual whitespace as well.

  2. Amen is all I can say. I also echo Mary’s response. Even I sit here and work on my book chapter for class, I am asking myself, “am I really expected to keep up on all this information and if so, at what cost?”. . . my sanity. . or my own quiet space (which is getting smaller and smaller by the day)

    I re-read Pres. Faust’s talk (thanks to Mary). He spoke about how faith is the sanctuary of our soul. It seems that now with the economy and the acceleration of so many things, there is refuge in faith. He also mentioned, ” In our time the belief that science and technology can solve all of mankind’s problems has become a theocracy. I would despair if I thought our eternal salvation depended on scientific, technical, or secular knowledge separate from righteousness and the word of God.” This thought gives me perspective as I look at all the information I need to ingest and all that is required of me as far as school and profession. I am glad that even as I sit here and stress (just a little) about my book chapter. . . my salvation is not depended upon it. Just my faithfulness, my covenants, my family. . . and well, maybe the contribution that this book on using technology to share the gospel will have.

  3. Pingback: Too Busy to Blog « Ventures

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