Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This seems harsh...  

But pretty close to reality.
Moral of the story: the internet makes dumb people dumber and smart people smarter. If you don't know how to use it, or don't have the background to ask the right questions, you'll end up with a head full of nonsense. But if you do know how to use it, it's an endless wealth of information. Just as globalization and de-unionization have been major drivers of the growth of income inequality over the past few decades, the internet is now a major driver of the growth of cognitive inequality. Caveat emptor. [More]
Ryan Avent adds his two cents.
The question is: is this an iron rule of innovation in information technology—that the cheaper information becomes and the easier it becomes to manipulate it the greater will be the gap, productive and otherwise, between the informationally capable and the rest?
That's certainly possible, and there's little in recent history to convince us otherwise. It is not, however, a given. We might well be in an intial phase of the information age in which technology amplifies cognitive gaps which gives way to a period in which technology mutes those gaps. Mr Drum's line is taken from a post concerning the utility of search returns given search-box inputs; smart people are probably going to be better able to formulate search queries that return desired results. But who among us imagines that search technology and the interface between human and database won't substantially improve over time. Just take iPhone's Siri, for example, which applies voice-recognition and automated search technologies unimaginable not long ago. [More]
I think both have a point, but down here on the farm it plays out against the constraints of the zero-sum rule: technology like the Internet makes smart people smarter faster than it does dumb people (I'm not fond of the latter adjective, but we'll stick with their designations). The result is fast adapters crowd out - usually permanently those slower to understand and utilize.

For example, it doesn't matter if smart phones eventually lift every user's capabilities as they flow down the food chain. The biggest rewards will already have been claimed, and in our world there are only so many.

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