Someone needs to help Ben Thompson / Stratechery figure out the difference between Retard Media and Rational Media

… and maybe that “someone” could / should be me. 😀

I saw this just now:

After the Internet, though, the total amount of information is so much greater that even if the total amount of misinformation remains just as low relatively speaking, the absolute amount will be correspondingly greater:

What bothers me most is the image used to present this idea. Obviously, Ben does not understand much about statistics. Otherwise, the statement might not be half as bad.

Regardless: this is actually a very simple matter. I do not pay attention to “retard media” (note that — the website where I first published that article — is currently experiencing an inordinately high amount of traffic, so I have linked to an “archived” copy of the article instead).

Ben appears to be saying that the amount of misinformation online is small (compared to the total amount of information) — I do not share his naive optimism.

Brand names (such as “stratechery” or “nytimes”) are (IMHO) inherently distrustworthy — in other words: they are worthy of distrust. The only information that is potentially trustworthy is information that is about something. Brand names are not about anything — they are simply meaningless strings used to identify particular products and/or services. If there are many producers of the same product or service, brand names are used to identify particular producers or service providers — but they are not indicators of any level of quality themselves. They are simply contrived constructs to help consumers if they want to exercise loyalty to any particular producer or service provider.

Rational media (on the other hand) is potentially about something — namely whatever it says it is about. This is relatively simple and straightforward — yet one thing that has made it a little tricky was ICANN’s rollout of proprietary top level domains a few years ago. For example: novice users (who lack the required high level of “digital” literacy) might think that a domain in the “app” TLD is about an “app” (or “apps” in general). Yet first of all: “app” may actually not be very well-defined. But second of all — as people with more advanced literacy skills will probably be aware — the “app” TLD was auctioned off to Google (or Alphabet — whatever that corporation is now known as in the United States of America [I, for one, do not think that company is trustworthy in many regards, let alone with respect to literacy] ). Therefore: “app” is not actually about “apps”. It is about Google (because Google now owns it).

I doubt ICANN’s decision to auction off many TLDs will be reversed in the near future — and it probably doesn’t matter, either. There are already many generic TLDs in “wide distribution” (much as the English language is also in wide distribution across the globe). Over time, as more and more people become more and more literate, they will become more and more aware of the very large number of proprietary fiefdoms, versus the relatively small number of generic TLDs.

The widely distributed generic TLDs are like dictionaries. Each word in such dictionaries functions as it’s own specialized search engine — whether for “shopping”, or “hotels”, or “cars”, or whatever. Market forces will ultimately result in trustworthy information appearing in rational media.

Pay Attention: suppress unwanted information + become blind to what you do not want to see

paying attention also involves choosing what to ignore. For an object to come into the spotlight, thousands of others must remain in the shadows. To direct attention is to choose, filter, and select: this is why cognitive scientists speak of selective attention. This form of attention amplifies the signal which is selected, but it also dramatically reduces those that are deemed irrelevant. The technical term for this mechanism is “biased competition”: at any given moment, many sensory inputs compete for our brain’s resources, and attention biases this competition by strengthening the representation of the selected item while squashing the others.

As you + I … — as we may think

Indeed, there are (in my humble opinion) many phenomena throughout the everyday lives of humans, perhaps throughout all of life in general which are embedded with principles of automatism / automaticity. One of the primary reasons we aren’t talking a whole lot about them is that these things seem invisible to our awareness, or perhaps so blatantly obvious that we don’t ever mention them because we’re convinced they must be plain and simple “common sense”.

If you think outside the box, “externality” thinking is impossible

I read Bruno Latour’s “Science in Action” several decades ago (as a graduate student in information science). Here’s a quick update from the professor, albeit in an interview that is very difficult to follow, mainly because of the way interviewer / interviewee (fail to) communicate with one another — ironically, this is a tragic case of inappropriate technology in action. 😉

The joy of admitting when you don’t know

blogging , personal , lifestyle , relationships , honest , friendships , honesty , conversations , knowledge


Here’s something I learned recently: Nobody, and I mean nobody, knows what the fuck they’re doing. It’s lesson that has encouraged me to live a more honest and authentic life with loved ones and strangers alike.

I throw my hands in the air when I fuck up. I tell my boss when I feel like I feel like I’m about to fuck up. If somebody asks me a question I don’t know the answer to, I point them in the direction of somebody who can instead of fumbling around for some sort of reasonable response to make myself look all knowledgeable and superior and stuff.

I message my friends in the vicinity of their birthdays for the exact date they’ll be tallying another digit onto their age because I will forget. And, if I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, I am not going to pretend that…

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Advice Doesn’t Help Us Generate Knowledge

advice, Engaging, Knowledge, Learning, Meaning, Memory, Thought

Novel Learning

As you would expect, Michael Bungay Stanier’s book The Coaching Habit is all about how to be a more effective coach. Part of becoming a more effective coach involves understanding how the brain works so that you can understand how the people you coach are going to learn and react in certain situations. To help demonstrate the importance of knowing how the brain works, Bungay Stanier references Josh Davis and his colleagues from the NeuroLeeadership Institute and their model known as “AGES”. Specifically, Bungay Stanier focuses on the “G” from AGES.

G stands for Generation, and commenting on knowledge generation, Bungay Stanier writes, “Advice is overrated. I can tell you something, and it’s got a limited chance of making its way into your brain’s hippocampus, the region  that encodes memory. If I can ask you a question and you generate the answer yourself, the odds increase substantially.” What is important…

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