Hutch tossed this article from the NYT up on Twitter this morning. He thought, “This ‘net is devoid of serendipity’ article is off-mark. Serendipity is fueled by curiosity, personified by LINKs.” My initial inclination was to concur with his assessment after scanning the article. Then I thought about it a bit and went back and actually read the article. The author makes several valid points, although they are fairly subtle.
There were three points he made that really hit home with me:
1) When everyone is getting their info off the web from social media sites and linking each other you run into the group think phenomenon. This is already a problem with Google. The way the algorithm is written, it perpetuates itself so that websites which are popular just get more popular. When was the last time you went past the first page of your Google search? How about the third page? If people never access those later pages, those sites don’t get the hits they need to boost their ratings and move them up to the earlier pages. Self perpetuating groupthink.
2) The web is Gi-normous and it is easy to get information overflow to the point that your brain shuts everything out. There’s a reason that some law firms use the “bury them with paperwork” strategy. If you give your opponent too much information, it is often more effective than giving them too little. When you give them too little, you motivate them to try harder sometimes. When you inundate them with the raw amount of hours of labor it’s going to take to discover what they’re looking for, they lose hope. So they don’t even try.
3) For many people, electrons don’t stimulate them the same way other media does. Ever try reading the back cover of a Kindle? How about the track list on someone’s iPod? Doesn’t work quite like a hardcover or a CD, does it? Personally, I prefer treeware books unless it is an audiobook being performed well by the author [eg Scott Sigler] (perhaps with some help by their friends [eg Chris Lester]). And even then, I’m a picky ass bastard. If it’s not a mass market trade paperback, I generally turn my nose up at it. I definitely buy treeware of the aforementioned podio-authors, but that’s to support their careers and give something back more than anything else. But I digress. There is definitely a much better chance of me starting a conversation and picking up something new with someone if I can see it.
So, I thing Mr Darlin (yes, he’s an honest to goodness Darlin <chuckles>) has some excellent points. Too bad the NYT is run by greedy bastards who won’t let me make a comment there. Kind of proving his own point by working for “the man” <sniggers> Betcha he thinks paying the AP to quote Thomas Jefferson is a good thing, when it’s actually more along the lines of eating kittens. Just WRONG!!!