The answers to all your questions
|September 29, 2011||Posted by Sophy Bot under Internet culture|
Why are some pistachios red?
The question haunted me for years as a kid, gnawing at my curiosity, but never so much so that I felt the need to dive into the library’s card catalog to look up “A Modern History of Pistachios” or “Pistachios: A Guide for the Curious Third Grader.” But when the question came back to me some years later, the answer was suddenly accessible – by then, it was the late 90’s and the internet had become a regular part of my life. So why are some pistachios red? Well it turns out the answer is pretty dull. Some pistachios were dyed red to hide blemishes from processing. That’s it. After nearly a decade of curiosity, I had my answer in five minutes flat.
These days, our answers come even faster. As the internet has grown and sources like Wikipedia have matured, there are few questions that cannot be answered immediately. And now, with the continuing rise of QR codes and augmented reality applications, the time lag is disappearing completely. Wikipedia announced yesterday the creation of a new QR application that allows users to scan the code with their smartphone and immediately be taken to the corresponding Wikipedia entry, and in their own written language to boot. A post on ReadWriteWeb explains the app’s importance:
“That’s what the Internet is for, people, for taking the reality we’re standing in front of and exploding it with a world of additional information available on demand.”
These developments point to an interesting fact: the internet has fundamentally changed our sense of curiosity. Whereas once we pondered various questions on our own or argued them over with friends, now we’re able to instantly access not only the answer, but also a slew of related facts and details. The corresponding mental process has completed changed. Before, we mulled over questions, kicking around possibilities in our minds or with our friends, reveling in the question itself. Now, we revel in the answer. Our curiosity is wrapped up in knowing the facts rather than imagining the possibilities. Whether this is for the better or for the worse is another matter entirely. Knowing that pistachios were dyed red because of defects in the manufacturing process did not rock my world in any relevant way. Then again, knowing that answer allowed me to move on to the next question, and then the next, and then the next. Perhaps modern curiosity is neither better nor worse than classical curiosity – as with so many elements of the internet-connected culture, it’s just plain old different. C’est la vie internet.