I loved this article. Hope you enjoy it too.

February 16, 2006
Data disease

I am an information addict — a data junkie. I am completely out of my mind. By and large, it doesn’t matter what kind of data I can find, I just have to find it. It’s not always high-quality data, but it is always plentiful. Wikipedia (one of my favorite enablers) has a word for my addiction: “infornography.” According to the article of the same name, “Infornography is used to define an addiction for information. People addicted to Infornography are people that overly enjoy sending, receiving, exchanging and digitizing information.”

It’s important to note that infornography implies that one overly enjoys information. For example, it doesn’t really matter what George Brett slugged in 1980 (.664) or how many goals Ronaldo scored in the last World Cup (eight), but that doesn’t change the fact that I knew both without thinking. Not only that, I’m enjoying sending this information to others. Classic infornography.

You had better be careful not to end up like me. Granted, it’s a difficult addiction to see coming. One minute I made Google News my homepage and started checking my e-mail on my phone. A year later, I subscribed to Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine (not to mention ESPN Insider) and Baseball Prospectus and am looking into what it would take to get a subscription to Baseball America. Not only that, but I have 34 fantasy teams and care about each of them. Every time I see a player on Sportscenter, I say, “Alright! That guy is on my fantasy team!” What few know is that every guy is on my fantasy team.

Even real life data is valuable to me: I’m going to see the inaugural World Baseball Classic over spring break. Eventually, you’ll start sorting out unimportant data like the person trying to get your attention away from the computer screen while you’re reading Rotoworld, or the philosophy reading you’re supposed to do the day computer predictions for next season come out. I haven’t figured out a way to get information intravenously, but when I do, you can be sure I will have read it on some dude’s blog.

How deep does this addiction go? Or, more importantly, when can I watch the Phillies game on my glasses? When I wake up in the morning, I cannot go back to sleep until I have checked the latest Hot Stove news at least once. Adam Dunn’s contract signing could not wait; I just had to know.

This addiction has polarized my worldview. There are Junkies and there are Regulars. When all the computers are taken in McCabe, please, for your own sake, let me have the next one. Otherwise, I might throw a fit and check scores on my phone.

I have one last cautionary note, however. Wikipedia has one more thing to say about infornography: “Information is being considered not just a valuable commodity from a practical point of view, but something that generates an almost sexual thrill, something that we lust after and enjoy hunting.” Wouldn’t you hate to be some data right now?

This is a grotesque and crippling addiction. It has warped my desires, chained me to my laptop and stolen my money. I am like the character in the science fiction movie that has contracted the dangerous space disease and must sacrifice himself for the good of humanity.

“There’s no time for me! Go on by yourselves. You can’t end up like Tony Gwynn in 1994!!! I HAVE TO KNOW!”

Tommy is a junior. You can reach him at tbennet1@swarthmore.edu.