In the splendid Boxes and Arrows online publication, an article struck my eye, "The Line Betweeen Clarity and Chaos: An Interview with Barry Schwartz".
Schwartz complains of "hundreds of thousands" (actually many millions) of blogs. He complains that too many options causes paralysis. He perhaps, seems to, long for a simpler time when we had fewer choices, or a different world where rich complexity was rare. Where it was more obvious what was credible and what was whimsy.
Thank goodness for mainstream "editors" who in their role as information's philosopher-kings and gatekeepers, trouble us with no more information than we feel comfortable with, and don't we have a natural human right to comfort and discomplexity and general mental ease?
I am skeptical about any attempt to say something like democracy, human dignity, religious freedom, civil rights, child protection, physical health, or mental hygiene, can be taken to a "fault". Sure, there are extremes of everything. But to be "too" democratic? To give people "too many" choices? Too many options?
You can stop whenever you wish. You don't have to sift through all the information, but you better be glad you have so much to inspect and choose from, because the opposite situation is not very pleasant.
Humanity has been starved for more options and opportunities, more access and activities, more choices and offerings, for thousands of years. Now that we finally have achieved a Digital Universal Collective Consciousness via the internet, you want to come around, morose, frustrated at the "extra work" required to find anything good.
It's so quick and easy to do your own analysis, your own filtering. That's what your mind is for, for filtering information and making decisions. It won't hurt to exercise it on the web.
One secret technique is to use Trust Linking: you go to a known, reputable, reliable, credible site and see what they link to. Get to understand what criteria they must have used to select these links. There's your filter. Add the links you visited and liked, and trusted, to your own blogroll. Now you've made a filter for others to use. A list of pre-surfed web locations, that you personally recommend.
I prefer a super abundance of choices to a "filtered" list of options, no matter how great the filtering agent claims to be. I will do my own filtering.
Any suggestion that we ought to slow down or circumscribe the free flow of information sounds dangerously close and similar to fascism to me, such an attitude hints of being, underneath it all, completist, totalitarian, repressive.
I don’t see “information overload” as any problem whatsoever.
There are filters that we use mentally, individually, called web savvy. Thinking and judging is good for the mind and society. Why should information always be easy, simple, and limited? Information wants to be, and always already is, infinite. There is some increase in information, but also increase in hunger for information, and increase in new ways of distributing and accessing information.
To bewail the abundance of content, to regret the influx of garbage, is not the best use of our time and effort. All communication channels, including fully present speech, is loaded with noise. Not just blogs and YouTube.
I also take exception with the very dangerous wording of “democratic to a fault” which strongly implies a distrust of “too much” democracy, like “too much” civil rights for blacks, or “too much human rights”, “too much education”, “too much happiness”, or “too much political freedom”.
How is something taken “to a fault”? Is the fault pre-arranged, pre-existing? Or is the fault an outstreaming of a contamination inherent in a corrupt system? Is democracy such a system?
What does it mean to be distant from a fault, and is there safety in distance? If something can be taken “to a fault”, is there not the assumption on the part of the author that that democracy is already “faulty”, since it was vulnerable, perhaps secretly wishing, for this fault to come along and seduce it?