Happy Inauguration Day!
I expect to have all this week’s articles posted before President Obama’s speech, so I won’t say anything about that until next week. This week, I’ll just comment on the more aggressive tone I expect to see in the second term. No more “I Hope you’ll be reasonable so we can Change things.”
Also, this week the post-Newtown talk about guns started turning into action. New York State passed a new law, and the Obama/Biden plan came out. To the great surprise of paranoids from coast to coast, Obama didn’t issue an executive order confiscating all the guns. I guess that will delay the armed rebellion for a few weeks.
But this week’s main article is a double book review wrapped up in commentary. Tentatively titled “How do you know what you know?”, it discusses why the information explosion isn’t leading to more wisdom and consensus. I realize it’s no great revelation to point out that we’re not trending toward wisdom and consensus, but if you’d never seen an information explosion, you might think we should be. If stuff is easier to find out, wouldn’t that lead people to know more, understand more, make wiser choices, and agree on some basic facts? Why isn’t that happening?
Nate Silver starts The Signal and the Noise by looking back at the last info-revolution, Gutenberg’s, and observing that it also led to polarization and strife. You can look at that book and Blur by Kovach and Rosenstiel as training manuals for mitigating the problems that come from information overload.