Thursday, July 2, 2009

Learning from Bits

Cleverly titled RSSted Development, Ben Casnocha has an essay in The American about the blogosphere, attention spans, and Tyler Cowen's new book. The essay discusses how ideas are acquired and processed in the information age, especially how we weave pieces from information streams (like blogs and social networks) together to form our own personal narratives. It considers the effects of receiving our information in bit form on our learning and focus.

A couple quotes I liked:
Self-education has gone from being like a loner sitting in a bar sparsely populated with hazily attractive women to being in the center of a packed, rocking night club where the women are wearing mini-skirts and the guys’ shirts open up several buttons down.

The glorification of “focus” is the second problem with the criticisms of bit-consumption and technology use in general. While some amount of focus is necessary, it is not the case that sitting alone in a quiet white walled room with no beeps or buzzes is the ultimate day-to-day environment for deep, creative thinking. Sam Anderson in New York Magazine summarized research that says un-focus is actually an important part of creativity—random meanderings and conversations can trigger important creative insights.

I enjoyed the review and look forward to reading Create Your Own Economy. Interestingly, it took me two sittings to read the whole article and I found myself repeatedly scrolling to the bottom to see how much was left.

Oh yeah, it also had this line:
I had not read any books or taken any classes on the subject [libertarianism]. Names like Hayek and Nozick were as foreign to me as the concept “moral hazard” is to President Obama.

1 comment:

Pete Abbate said...

Very good read! I share your excitement in waiting for CYOE. This was pretty interesting for me in light of my previous month without an iPhone - I wasn't cut off from the world but assembled information in a very different way, and since I've returned to the States my information consumption has evolved, at least a little bit.

Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty