Until then, we have the smart phone, the laptop, and the tablet computer. Until then, information will be both our co-worker and our drinking buddy; insistent, indulgent, and sexy. And really, until the know-everything device plugs in and sticks, that's the way information should feel. But does it?
Join the navy. Insure your car. Buy our jeans. Read my blog post. Why do some carefully-crafted, multimillion-dollar mixes of focus-group testing and college-majored creative endeavors feel like distractions, and why do others jump-start our imaginations so much that, months later, we think of a gecko as we pour over automotive expenses?
We all start out as bright-eyed blobs and learn to answer life's important questions like tasty or not tasty, pretty or not pretty, and sexy or not sexy. Media companies know these questions and have their own stencil-like answer bubbles for them. Film companies have their quadrants. Advertisers have their market sectors. Game developers have their age ratings. This mass creation of labels is in many ways completely necessary. Our brain, for instance, stereotypes its environment to make sense of the world, whether that means translating people into types, forming a few circular shapes into faces, or taking a second look at a few Martin rocks that look convincingly like Bigfoot.
There is a wonderful phrase in the English language: TMI. Too much information. I can think of nothing this describes better than Uncyclopaedia, Youtube Poop, and all those other murky corners of the internet that the history books may one day call the true post-post modernist art. I love the stuff to death, but a few minutes into realizing that your enjoyment of it requires intimate knowledge of Spongebob, Hotel Mario, the Zelda CD game, Where's Waldo, and the most obscure Saturday-morning fare the 90s could scrounge up, you suddenly understand that some information is too much.
In a story, chunks of information can either explain and enhance the plot and setting, or overstay their welcome like a lecherous drinking buddy groping your girlfriend. Think fantasy novel prologues. Conversely, expecting your reader to follow your story's plot without relevant information is like going out without that lecherous drinking buddy. Who's left to stop you from asking out the girl that ends up being the bait-and-switch for the kill-scene of a slasher flick? It can be as unsatisfying as those detective stories where the smart schmuck breathes out a list of clues solving the case and you're left there wondering what undoctored version of the script was he reading the whole movie.
Great literary figures construct new layers of meaning through allusion. Andy Warhol explored the quirks of the human body by pasting cutout body parts of magazine ads onto collages. Sometimes nostalgia blows up in pop-culture's face, sometimes the new needs tail fins and bubble domes to feel new enough, and sometimes drug commercials need a few happy, smiling old people to distract you from all that worrisome text explaining why the company can't be sued if you die. We like how their body language says, "Hey, don't worry so much. Your doctor's got your back."
Why else would those commercials be freaking everywhere?