More information, less informed

I tend to err on the side of pessimism, and I’m as concerned as The Luddite on

This is one of the aspects of news delivery in the digital age that really bothers me. Most news services, including this one, allow you to configure your RSS feeds and e-mail alerts to receive only the news that interests you. If you’re an investor, for example, you can set up your feeds to deliver only financial news. If you swill Budweiser for a living, you may get no further than your digital sports section.

So, while you might be aware that the market took another dive, costing you a few bob, or that the Red Sox are pinning their hopes on a $160 million pitcher from Japan, you are, in effect, capable of shutting out the rest of the world. And why? Because you’re too busy, or too uninterested, or too “annoyed” to deal with it.

Assuming you no longer read newspapers — and studies suggest that more and more of you have dropped the habit — you can actually go through life without having any idea at all what’s going on in the wider world. (Watching TV news doesn’t count, by the way. That’s always been a joke, at least since Uncle Walter hung ’em up.)

Oh, the irony. All that information as close as your computer screen and there you sit, pondering the deeper meaning of Anna Nicole Smith’s death because that’s what your RSS feed has been told to deliver. The Chinese may be pouring across the Yalu River again, if that works as an economic metaphor, and the icecaps might be melting, but you’d never know. Or care.

Wired News: The World? Your Oyster? Why Not?


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