By now we all realize that the internet is a hyperstimulating environment for infovores. In fact, the modern infovore is defined by engagement with, and through, the internet.

Gwern is an infovore par excellence. Is not his website a totem to the very endeavor of gathering and disseminating knowledge online? Can it be described as aught but a sacred compendium in progress that documents the alchemical transformation of data into wisdom?!

Welp, I just Googled to check, and โ€” TIL that "infovore," as a term, postdates the internet. So... I'm going to interpret that as reinforcing my point. Anyway...

The discerning modern ๐’ฉ๐‘’๐“‰๐’พ๐“๐‘’๐“ƒ must choose between painstakingly moderate intake or braving the deluge. While I admire those who manage monkish restraint, I enjoy reading posts way too much to minimize the activity. What I've ended up doing instead is aiming my voracity for drama at communities that discuss topics that are useful for me to know about. Communities and discuss are the important bits.

See, the magical thing about the internetย is that you can read other people's arguments. To be clear, I don't recommend getting involved in the arguments. Especially not those that are better described as slap fights! (Alas, I lack the capability to comprehensively follow my own advice. I'm trying, okay? So it goes โ€” I wrote a whole dang essay about epistemic empathy and nevertheless I struggle with it on a daily basis.)

If we can assume a minimum threshold of self-discipline, there are two advantages to reading other people's arguments:

  • You get up to speed quickly, and surprisingly thoroughly, on N sides of the issue, and/or the purported beliefs of N factions. (Who is right? Lurk moar to find out ๐Ÿ˜‰)
  • You find out which problems and conflicts are currently salient to a given community.

Personally, that's enough reason for me to read lots and lots of comments. And look, at least one fancy person agrees with me ๐Ÿ˜

Reading the Comments
What we can learn about human nature from the informative, manipulative, confusing, and amusing messages at the bottom of the web. Online comment can be informative or misleading, entertaining or maddening. Haters and manipulators often seem to monopolize the conversation. Some commeโ€ฆ
This book sounds pretty cool, but I've grown reflexively suspicious of academic books. I'm sick of being lured by fascinating subject matter into buying tediously ponderous tomes! Curse you, university press blurb writers, curse you! [shakes fist at sky]

Here's where I go to read copious comments:

That's all! Short 'n' sweet. L8r, see you around, etc.

Photo by Antonio Campoy, as is the header photo.