MoyMoyPalaBoy: Counterpoint

As a counterpoint to my previous posting on MoyMoyPalaBoy’s version of the Gypsy King’s version of Volare, I write this posting.

I’m reminded of the article where Conan O’Brian is paraphrased talking about the upheaval in the entertainment industry. This passage comes to mind from that article:

“O’Brien made the point repeatedly that “cream rises to the top” online and that if you consistently put out funny stuff, you’ll start getting paid to write or perform funny stuff. But he also talked about how the Web and the reality TV/ Paris Hilton generation had set a precedent that you could be famous not for any talent, but just for making a spectacle of yourself.”

I also would like to tie in an article I read from Ars recently talking about how students trust the top link in a search engine too much. The quote that gave me pause in that article is:

“Only 10 percent of the participants mentioned the author or author's credentials when performing their research, and according to screen captures of those students, "none actually followed through by verifying either the identification or the qualifications of the authors.””

I’ve been mulling this over in my mind, trying to figure out what is bothering me about these articles. I need to think about this a bit more, but the issue at hand seems to me to be the inability or unwillingness to assess the quality of the information and media you are viewing.

You may think I am moving in the direction of an ineffective “kids these days are not as sharp as the kids of the previous generations” argument. That isn’t the case, because I think such a statement is just as simplistic and reductionist as some of the media in question being viewed.

Rather, I think this is more about a trend towards using less assessment of quality while viewing information and media. That is a far more difficult problem to assess and counter, but I believe more accurately describes the situation.

There are a lot of forces influencing this trend to people using less quality standards.

One that comes to mind is the ongoing problem of information overload. It really isn’t possible for people to appreciate nuance when the information pipe is a firehose. Nuance takes time and introspection, neither of which are workable when there’s so much information that you barely have time to read it, let alone understand it.

As people of the internet age we believe that we can handle large amounts of information, but in reality we only pay attention to that which is novel, because that’s what immediately gets our attention. Like hoarding crows we look at and pay attention to shiny things without assessing whether they are jewels or discarded aluminum cans. People prey on this and learn to present information in a shiny way so we will pay attention to it in the flood of the information firehose.

The problem with any information is that it is inconsistent. It is incomplete, biased with agendas (intentionally or not) and of varying quality. It requires a force of will to stitch it together in a way that is cohesive and useful.

If we do not make this effort, then we remain vulnerable to influence from external agendas from anyone trying to sell us something, whether that something be products, politics, culture or ideas.

We cannot do that with a firehose.

I recall some other references, but I need to dig through my books to find them. I’ll leave this discussion at this for now as I ponder this some more.

And to think a bad video spoofing a song pushed me to this.