How Google changes information markets

The underappreciated David Zetland loves Google but sees two negative externalities:

One externality is a reduction in community bonds between individuals who consume more commodified knowledge and less common knowledge. The second externality is a reduction in the creation of new knowledge when Google delivers others’ presentations too quickly–removing the Aha! moment when composing a known concept generates a completely new one. To not be evil, Google should act to offset these externalities. I suggest solutions to build community bonds and increase innovation.

Here is the paper.  I too love Google, but I see the negative externalities differently.  My main worry is that we learn more about topics with readily imagined keywords, and we neglect hard-to-define abstract concepts.  We are headed toward a culture of facts and small bites of information, and may neglect the sort of judgmental wisdom found in, say, John Stuart Mill.  I call this kind of knowledge "Factor X."  In relative terms, Factor X is becoming more difficult to disseminate; whether it is declining in absolute terms is harder to say.

David’s philosophy of travel offers some Factor X.  An excerpt:

I wasn’t sick very often. Someone asked me what I learned in five
years. I learned that parents love their children. The rest of my experience was
about coping with me, what I wanted, what I couldn’t get and why that hardly

If you wish to offer an alternative account of the knowledge biases in Google, comments are open.


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