The Web is a wonderful thing, but it’s hard to keep up. Every day it dishes up more essays, quips, useful videos, lectures, and books than you can read in a lifetime. And that’s just the serious stuff. And that enormous outpouring is dwarfed by the stuff meant primarily to entertain. Plus there’s another huge explosion of stuff that’s difficult to classify – wanderings of demented minds and the like. Is there a good strategy for dealing with it all?
You could, of course, just ignore it all or at least ignore the serious stuff. That might be the best strategy, but I find it unsatisfying.
I have some rules for my reading.
If the output involves name calling, I ignore it completely. If someone has a serious point to argue, they won’t engage in name calling.
Ignore anything that purports to tell you what other people think, such as “conservatives think…” or “Democrats think…”. This kind of argument is itself empty of thinking, relying on mind reading instead.
Ignore guilt by association. If Obama’s secretary once got a speeding ticket, that has no bearing on Obama. If Romney had college buddies who went rogue, that has no bearing on Romney.
There are other filters – in fact, there’s a whole branch of knowledge devoted to identifying false arguments. But these three are a start. If you can have enough discipline to stick to these rule, a day’s Web output may only take half a lifetime to absorb