Internet has sunk into garbage
You are watching into the most amazing creation of the humankind, the Internet.
Internet is mainstream now. Everybody from every contry are finally participating. When put together this mass forms the dumbest entity in the world.
Phileas Taylor Barnum would be proud of us.
We could use Internet to...
- prevent wars
- cure diseases
- erase oppressive regimes
- stop deterioration of biosphere
With the power of knowledge alone that would be possible.
Instead we use Internet to...
- defraud people
- spread hyperbole and false information
- promote quack medicine and homeopathy
- reinforce debunkable beliefs
On top of that we have economic superpowers trying to coerce Internet into a broadcasting network. Many put profits of the next quarter ahead of the global economy. Several people want to live in a garbage landfill given that they are in the power.
Broken link sites
Link lists used to be neat sources for articles and stories that wouldn't otherwise reach you shared through your friends. Digg, Reddit, Hacker News, Lobster filled up this niche.
The dumbest, laziest and most boring people are spamming these services with a constant feed. It continues in the comment threads attached to the posts, where people promote their belief framework and attack opposing beliefs.
A great information source needs a reviewer. This person reads through posts and organizes them by their relevance. In an optimal situation he reads a lot and throws away everything garbage.
One core tenet of people who build these sites is to allow anyone post their content. Well, except Hacker News that deadbans you if they don't like you, and only allows you to try again if you're dishonest and access the site with a new account.
Every single link site starts as a nice small community creating value into Internet. These days those sites reach a critical point fast, the amount of post submissions explode and the sites lose their value.
Newspapers and the information overflow
I read about an information overflow in the 1990s. It was a subject of magazine authors and articles collected into school assignments. Those articles were themselves noisy, distracting and annoying. "Oh no! There is too much freedom when everybody can write and publish." A short summary from the conclusion they did.
Newspapers have hundreds of stories and things to write about. At the same time they have less funding than ever. Despite this the news outlets are not suffering from the information overflow, they have figured out a way to cope with it.
The newspaper solution to information overflow is to republish everything in a copy/paste style and color the stories with a mild bias of whoever is paying some sponsorship money to keep the press running.
Internet killed newspapers and magazines. Not as a business though. Instead they are no longer a good source of information.
We pretend that there is nothing wrong in being incorrect.
The easiest way to be in wrong is to listen to other people. You believe that another guy has done his due diligence before he blasts out a claim. As long as it doesn't sound extraordinary you gather it along and make it your own.
Many claims bounce around in the blogosphere and they make all facts sound extraordinary.
Human stupidity is not due to Internet. People have been stupid all the time. The history books are sprinkled with forgotten stupidity, for example radioactive quackery used to be a thing. People were in wrong, they were stupid.
Trying to teach new generation with books or trying to avoid the Internet and its effects are a certain form of quackery as well.
Being wrong is wrong. It harms people.
Many catastrophies would be averted if more people knew how to critical read.
Fake news criminalization
"News outlets" such as telegraph and fox "news" get their facts wrong. They accidentally take part to spreading so called fake news.
At the Internet era fake news have gotten so bad that it has been made into a crime to spread fake news in Germany.
Unfortunately people are wrong about everything. Often you're wrong because you've not learned something.
Exposing your own stupidity. It would be sad if you were punished from that.
Insufficient writing skills
There is something cool though. If you read around you see that people are bad at writing stories. They have difficulty writing such that they capture their audience. Many focus on the appearance rather than the content.
Biggest problem people have is that they focus on layout and appearance rather than to what they have to say.
This makes their stories easy to skip. Often they do not contain anything interesting either.
Software could come to the rescue?
I have considered abandoning news sites and make myself some tools that work as a reading filter.
I recently made a project that reads reddit. It filters stupid posts away by a title text. Unfortunately it is not enough.
The project worked well, but there were some false flags. Often the title tells everything but you cannot determine from a title text whether something is worth reading or not. Trying to extract content from these websites was also difficult.
I was planning to continue the project sometime later. It would involve writing a crawler that evaluates quality of the text, video and image content on the site.