Monday, April 19, 2010

so much to know, so little time

I love this metaphor: "This study suggests that Internet users are a bunch of ideological Jack Kerouacs. They’re not burrowing down into comforting nests. They’re cruising far and wide looking for adventure, information, combat and arousal."

I think that's probably true for a majority of internet users, and certainly the most intensive internet users. But more importantly, the internet allows you to become familiar with endlessly more ideas compared to watercooler talk with the same people about the same news channels day after day. The reason I use the internet is primarily for economics, yet most of the content that I get on a daily basis is about completely other stuff: everything from bayesianism vs frequentism to optical illusions, keyboard shortcut hacks, geographic catastrophes, rants using words like heteronormative way too much, inflationary theory, and most-valuable draft picks. None of these things hold more than a passing interest to me, but I learn about them anyway, and cycle through news sites and blogs as I find something new to get acquainted with and eventually leave satiated.

If I had to get my information from books and magazines and TV, I would have a hundredth of that variety. Even for this new inexplicably postmodern-youtube-video-obsessed generation, the tenth of the time they spend online looking at things of real interest is much more comprehensive than the media buffet of a couple decades ago.

(And that's not even including the black hole that is wikipedia.....)

I tend to reflexively spurn Tyler Cowen's new media/internet/social networking/bite-sized-chunks-of-information-consumption soapbox, but to the extent that this is what he really means, I have to agree.

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