Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Summary of Digital Issues in Grapes of Wrath

One of the greatest themes in Grapes of Wrath pertains to the troubles of misleading information. The story revolves around the Joad family's struggle to make the move to California after being evicted from their tenant farm by the foreboding entity of the Bank during the Great Depression. They, and many hundred other families, had no idea of how or to whom to protest their deportment and so were compelled to find work elsewhere. Elsewhere advertised itself to be California in the form of fliers advertising jobs as produce pickers. Unfortunately, too many of these fliers circulating about the Midwest attracted much more people than positions that were available, and the huge influx of competitive workers reduced each family's pay to less than sustenance level.

I'm going to be drawing comparisons between problematic communications then and now and similar problems that we face in the digital age. I'm thinking currently that I will write along the lines of too much versus too little information and how a checks and balances system was and is necessary to regulate confusion that could lead (and seems to be leading) to a similar disaster unless something is changed. And then I'll introduce something about social obligation to share information as a potential solution. Does anyone have other ideas for problems or solutions to the "too much information" issue of the digital age?


  1. I think the existence of an overload of information is relevant. The problem in the story reminds me of current economic conditions. Job listings online are so easily available. For me it was really hard to get a job last summer because there were so many applicants for every listing, and contact can be made just moments after a position is listed. It seems the only way to get a job is to know the right people - and hey - that's where networking comes in. I guess that's the positive side of the digital age and access to information. Networking online is useful and even necessary in the business world.

  2. Sounds like you need to distinguish between "too little information" and "misleading information." Both may be a problem, but they're not the same problem. Perhaps one of the benefits of having so much info available today is not that most of it is correct...but rather that amongst all the misleading information, there's an opportunity for trusted sites to find a voice as well. could say that our advancing age of technology and communication turned communication into a very serious commodity, one that warranted and justified having watch-dog groups and government protections, etc. Had communication of info not become such a big deal, perhaps no protective organizations would have come into existence. So, maybe we needed the glut in order to get a large enough market for inclusion of safeguards.

    You might do some research into the way "watchdog journalism" has developed: