“Today’s news consists of aggregates of fragments. Anyone who has taken part in any event that has subsequently appeared in the news is aware of the gross disparity between the actual and the reported events. We also learn frequently of prefabricated and prevaricated evens of a complex nature purportedly undertaken for the purposes wither of suppressing or rigging the news, which in turn perverts humanity’s tactical information resources. All history becomes suspect. Probably our most polluted resource is the tactical information to which humanity spontaneously reflexes.”
— Buckminster Fuller
, an American engineer, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist (1895-1983), Synergetics
, Macmillan, 1975.
‘News is to the mind what sugar is to the body’
“Afraid you will miss “something important”? From my experience, if something really important happens, you will hear about it, even if you live in a cocoon that protects you from the news. Friends and colleagues will tell you about relevant events far more reliably than any news organization. They will fill you in with the added benefit of meta-information, since they know your priorities and you know how they think. You will learn far more about really important events and societal shifts by reading about them in specialized journals, in-depth magazines or good books and by talking to the people who know. (…)
The more “news factoids” you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand. (…)
Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. News items are like free-floating radicals that interfere with clear thinking. News pieces are specifically engineered to interrupt you. They are like viruses that steal attention for their own purposes. (…)
[F]ewer than 10% of the news stories are original. Less than 1% are truly investigative. And only once every 50 years do journalists uncover a Watergate. (…) The copying and the copying of the copies multiply the flaws in the stories and their irrelevance.”
“The middle ages did not care much for alphabetical order, because they were committed to rational order. To the medieval mind, the universe [is] a harmonious whole whose parts are related to one another. It was the responsibility of the author or scholar to discern these rational relationships — of hierarchy, or of chronology, or of similarities and differences, and so forth.”
“All collected data had come to a final end. Nothing was left to be collected. But all collected data had yet to be completely correlated and put together in all possible relationships. A timeless interval was spent doing that.”
— Isaac Asimov
, American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books, (1920-1992), “The Last Question”
, Columbia Publications, 1956, cited in John Battelle
’s The Search
“A database can be listed; a human mind has to be stimulated.”
Alex (sandy) Pentland: Reinventing Society In The Wake Of Big Data
“While it may be useful to reason about the averages, social phenomena are really made up of millions of small transactions between individuals. There are patterns in those individual transactions that are not just averages, they’re the things that are responsible for the flash crash and the Arab spring. You need to get down into these new patterns, these micro-patterns, because they don’t just average out to the classical way of understanding society. We’re entering a new era of social physics, where it’s the details of all the particles—the you and me—that actually determine the outcome.
Reasoning about markets and classes may get you half of the way there, but it’s this new capability of looking at the details, which is only possible through Big Data, that will give us the other 50 percent of the story. We can potentially design companies, organizations, and societies that are more fair, stable and efficient as we get to really understand human physics at this fine-grain scale. This new computational social science offers incredible possibilities.
This is the first time in human history that we have the ability to see enough about ourselves that we can hope to actually build social systems that work qualitatively better than the systems we’ve always had. That’s a remarkable change. It’s like the phase transition that happened when writing was developed or when education became ubiquitous, or perhaps when people began being tied together via the Internet.
The fact that we can now begin to actually look at the dynamics of social interactions and how they play out, and are not just limited to reasoning about averages like market indices is for me simply astonishing. To be able to see the details of variations in the market and the beginnings of political revolutions, to predict them, and even control them, is definitely a case of Promethean fire. Big Data can be used for good or bad, but either way it brings us to interesting times. We’re going to reinvent what it means to have a human society.”
“I think the Net generation is beginning to see knowledge in a way that is closer to the truth about knowledge. (…) Knowing looks less like capturing truths in books than engaging in never-settled networks of discussion and argument. (…) This new topology of knowledge reflects the topology of the Net. The Net (and especially the Web) is constructed quite literally out of links, each of which expresses some human interest. (…) And that’s the sense in which I think networked knowledge is more “natural.” (…)
To make a smart room — a knowledge network — you have to have just enough diversity. (…) There is no longer an imperative to squeeze the world into small, self-contained boxes. Hyperlinks remove the limitations that objectivity was invented to address.”
“Memories are becoming hyperlinks to information triggered by keywords and URLs. We are becoming ‘persistent paleontologists’ of our own external memories, as our brains are storing the keywords to get back to those memories and not the full memories themselves.”