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Roses and Rabbit Holes

From Portland:

Yesterday, hiking up through the park just west of downtown, I not only came across the International Rose Test Garden but momentarily paused -- blink and you would have missed it -- to smell the flowers!!! This was a new thing for me. They smelled good. Really it was just a little sniff, not a full-on inhalation. It's not like I wasted a lot of time with something as trivial as floral scent.

Later I managed to catch some of the ballgame on TV, and was relieved that at no point did they send in Cruise to play quarterback.

Here are a few excerpts of a talk I'm giving later today. I'm still writing it. It's called Surviving the Age of Bad Information or something like that:

"There is Good Information and there is Bad Information and the Internet is generally pretty neutral about the difference. If you're a computer, it's all just 0s and 1s.

"The Internet is a wonderful invention. I use it constantly. What I don't know is if it makes me smarter. There are gravitational effects online that are hard to register - we tend to migrate toward the first page or two of the Google results. The Internet allows nonsense to build constituencies. It's a vast realm of individual echo chambers. It's full of rabbit holes, and you can get trapped....

"...Beware the expert. The expert has credentials, probably a publicist and a new book in stores. The expert goes on cable news shows and issues bold pronouncements. But any given statement does not become true simply because the person making the statement is an expert. Anybody can be wrong about anything."

It'll get better. And anyway, 90 percent of the game is the ... timing.

I may post more of it subsequently, if I don't get distracted by those dang flowers.

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 12, 2006; 11:13 AM ET
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