Summer Lughnasa Moon
Turning up the nozzle on the firehose. I read three newspapers daily: the NYT, the Denver Post and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. In addition I read several magazine articles a day, many from the New York Review of Books, but many from other sources discovered through web-site aggregators. The one I currently use is called Feedly. Wired and Foreign Policy are the two other paper magazine subscriptions I have, only recently having canceled my long-time subscription to the Economist. I’m also always reading at least one book on my Kindle, sometimes two.
We live in the golden age of science fiction television shows, as I said a while back, but we also live in the golden age of information access. The plethora of good science fiction means some get missed; the plethora of information available has created a perverse problem geometrically more complex than the science fiction one.
On Feedly I have eight categories of websites: stuff, technology, politics, science, magazines (the information aggregrators of the 20th century), philosophy and climate change. I could have double that with no difficulty. Feedly allows me to quickly browse topics and articles to see if there’s something I want to read.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that I could spend all day, every day, simply staying abreast of the things I care about. Obviously, this is a problem. It leaves no room for action, no room for work or domestic life. I can only absorb information at some finite rate, whatever that rate is. And I can only absorb, retain and understand an even smaller amount.
This leads obviously to a need to curate (overused, I know, but apt here) information sources and within them categories of information. How do I do that? Frankly, I have no good solutions. I’m often left at some point during the day deciding to quit reading to do something else: Latin, garden, pack, write my own information to add to the flood, think. But when I decide to quit it’s because there is always more, and more easily available. I don’t have to wait a month for a magazine to come, or a day for a newspaper to come. I don’t rely on hourly news digests by radio nor any of the various TV news broadcasts. These latter two are far too broad and shallow for my tastes.
This needs a solution, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.