Book Addict or Info Addict?

Earlier in the summer I bought a copy of StrengthsFinder 2.0 a “book” which is actually an info-mercial for a certain type of test that tells you things about yourself. Then I used the code in the book to take the test, thus giving the authors more data to make more money, and paying for the privilege of doing so. (Yes, I think this process is distorted and slightly scam-like, but hey, it was interesting, and I got the book for cheap, so why complain. I’m just making sure you have a clear picture of what is going on with the scam.) One of my strengths is “Input.” People with this strength are described as having “a craving to know more.” Also, “they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.” I think my book addiction may be linked to this collection of information. I also collect paper with information on it and attempt to store this paper logically in files. I have a four-drawer metal filing cabinet and about twelve (12) bankers boxes filled with my own personal archive of random stuff I think or thought to be important. I am moving. This is a problem.

Robertson Davies has a really interesting scene in Tempest-Tost, part of the Salterton Trilogy. In it, clergy are offered any book they want from a dead professor’s library for free. Two hundred and seventeen of them showed up before the hour appointed for the library to be open for their selections. This is what happened when seventy of them managed to push their way into a library that might comfortably take forty people standing:

“One does not describe the activity of clergymen in a library as looting. They were, in the main, quiet and well-bred men, and it was in a quiet and well-bred manner that they went to work. The pushing was of a moderate order, and the phrase ‘Excuse me’ was often heard. Natural advantages, such as long arms, superior height, and good eyesight were given rein, but there was no actual snatching nor were the old intentionally trodden upon. No very wide choice, no thoughtful ranging of the shelves, was possible in such a crush, and with good-humoured philosophy the visitors seized whatever was nearest.”

Another character in the book, a fourteen-year-old young woman called Freddy, had hoped to negotiate her way into the library, but the 217 clergymen picked the place clean. Freddy “was a victim of that lust for books which rages in the breast like a demon, and which cannot be stilled save by the frequent and plentiful acquisition of books.” I’m afraid I relate to that. But, maybe it isn’t books. Maybe it is just information? I’m not totally sure of that, as I’m finding the file purging a little easier than the book purge. I think books give the information better form and visual style.

How about you? Information or books? Does this mean that if it is the information, electronic formats are more appealing? Or is it the physical form of the information as well?

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