Making sense amid the noise

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By Stella A. Estremera

Spider’s web

Saturday, August 23, 2014

QR CODES have been around for some time now. Sun.Star Cebu’s Max Limpag has been all over the country installing QR codes on tourism and heritage sites. Mildred of Sunnex had at one time tried to interest me on how it works. I tried, went ho-hum, and didn’t try again, even when a national daily has been enticing readers to scan their front page photos for more information.

Until I found a book that had a QR code at each chapter as it tells a story of how things work in the future, and I found myself suckered in. A book’s easy prey, me.

But reading from chapter to chapter and operating ScanLife app to see and read more, come the realization that the book is noisy. Noisy in the sense that there are just so many things going on in there, it’s no longer the book I knew books to be. Instead, once you start a chapter, you scan your iPhone on the QR code and a host of other articles related to the chapter are tugging at your sleeves, asking to be read. Me! Me! Me! This, while your nose is still buried on the book -- Nick Bilton’s “I live in the future & here’s how it works”.


It’s like listening to a speaker while everyone else talks about their own concerns that hold equal interest.

I look into the future and get drowned out by louder noises, as I recall what had just transpired at the entrance of a mall this morning, where guards dig into your bag to see what’s inside.

They love digging into my bag because it’s a shoulder bag, but it’s heavy. Like darn heavy.

First, open the main compartment and guard would ask as she digs past the “pencil case” that contains two kinds of chargers, ballpens, and pencils and USBs, and some candies and stuff guaranteed to already weigh half a kilo. Then the guard’s stick would dig deeper into a black and orange bag that is properly zipped up, and the next question would be, “Anopoito, maam?” My automatic response, “Camera.”

Next step, will be the side pocket because most guards would still be unconvinced that a compartment with a camera and a fully loaded pencil case can weigh that much. Once the side pocket is opened, guard would let me through, because there she’d see three smartphones and two powerbanks all of which could easily weigh a kilo more. That doesn’t include the notepads and wallet, and IDs. Heavy.

Inside that bag alone are equipment that can record, photograph, call, surf, text, and save notes, and cards that can give vital information about myself and even tell how much I’m worth. Never had I imagined life would be this complicated when I was lugging around a portable typewriter and feeling proud that I had one. As I’d often tell travelmates, never had I imagined that I would be traveling with so many wires and think that’s normal. Digital clutter and noise. They are all inside our bag and pockets, all wired up to distract those who will allow themselves to be.

The sad side of this age is that it is easy to be distracted. Imagine reading a book and seeing ten, 20 other articles related to what you are reading on your phone. That doesn’t include the television that’s prattling in one corner, that’s bigger than we ever imagined television to be... and the tab.

Amid all these noise and clutter, the winner will be the ones who will be able to hold the most number of people’s attention, quiet them down, and entrance them with their own story. This is the challenge, this is how life will work today and in the generation or two to come.

Two weeks ago, a book just did that, because it did not just talk geek to me about QR codes and apps, it told a story that got me hooked and willing to scan along. Many others have failed, and in these failures and recent book acquisition, I understood the challenge.

First, step, do not drown in the noise. Push on, encourage some quiet, and tell your story or find the means to get your story into your audience’s consciousness. Target the head, target the consciousness, not the external memory banks because most things that are saved in a memory bank are just as quickly forgotten. No wonder a good number of my friends are opting for early retirement and are all heading to the farm… and quiet.


Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 24, 2014.


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