Best Of The Web
“Could it be a civic duty to tune out the news? Journalist Oliver Burkeman floats this provocative idea in a recent essay published in the Guardian newspaper. We owe it to society — and to ourselves — to tune out a good deal of the time, he says.
Burkeman’s essay makes the case with more detail and nuance than space allows here, and he writes with a charming lucidity that makes reading it a pleasure. For me, his most important observation is that the digital revolution has upended the problem of scarcity as it applies to information. For all of human history up to the present, humans had too little information; suddenly, information is everywhere. What’s scarce now is attention.
Today, we carry more news in the palm of a hand than it is possible to digest. So, how do we choose where to spend our limited bandwidth? Purveyors of information battle for each fleeting increment of our time, and they have found that their best weapon is our existing set of interests and biases. If we read a little bit about a subject, and thus signal our interest, their algorithms pounce on us to offer more of the same.
Fed an endless diet of information tailored just for us, we can easily fall into a distorted version of the world. Just as easily, we can find others through social media who share and reinforce that view. We get the feeling that each day’s news confirms our worst fears and begin to wonder whether the world is coming unhinged. All of this is a function of information merchants trying to seize our scarce attention and hold it as long as they can.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"U.S. President Donald Trump thinks he’s suffered more injustice than the alleged witches of Salem, but it could be worse. Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharaff faced possible impeachment in 2008, leading to his resignation. In the end..."
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"While some women experience pregnancy and childbirth as joyful, natural and fulfilling, others find themselves recoiling in horror at the physical demands of carrying and sustaining a child in their womb, and even more so at the potential..."
"A few months ago, the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo bemoaned the death of the Manhattan power lunch. Gone were the long, decadent afternoons filled with networking and Negronis: “Suit-and-tie-wearing machers in media and Wall Street gave way to..."
"Economic inequality has moved to the top of the political agenda in many countries, including free-market poster children like the US and the UK. The issue is mobilizing the left and causing headaches on the right, where wealth has long been..."
"If you’re not familiar with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats — or even if you are — then you probably have many, many questions going into the film adaptation this weekend, especially if you’ve witnessed the widespread bafflement the trailer..."
"Despite his precisely targeted campaign and some unexpected support, the chances of Gideon Saar engineering a surprise defeat of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Dec. 26 primaries for the Likud party leadership are still considered modest.."
"Peter Thiel is Big Tech’s most prominent Trump supporter. He is an unabashed enemy of the free press, having covertly funded a lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker three years ago. He has become one of the most vocal pro-monopoly advocates, taking a..."