Since we’re firmly entrenched in a way of life that is dependent on Google and social media, how do we ensure that we remain commonly knowledgeable?
The trick, says Poundstone, is to read general sources of information, not just those in your particular area of interest or obsession.
“My findings suggest that those who aspire to be well-informed should not overdo the customization of news,” Poundstone writes, recommending instead an amalgam of topically broad sources.
While those who rely on 24-hour cable news are generally the least informed, people who watched network nightly newscasts know more because of the general, world-spanning nature of the information they absorb.
“Cable-news viewers may regard network half-hours as quaint and obsolete. But those shows present a reasonable summary of the world in 30 minutes,” Poundstone writes. “Cable viewers — who often spend more time watching news than viewers of network news shows — miss the curated overview as they flip from channel to channel.”
The only news consumers as poorly informed as cable-news viewers are those who rely on social media or a search engine — specifically, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo and AOL.
As it happens, the very customization touted as the source of social media’s greatness is also making us stupid, as those who jump from link to link rarely stay long enough to absorb information at any depth.
Poundstone notes a Pew Research study finding that direct visitors to a news site visit 25 pages on average, while those guided there from Facebook or Twitter “visit fewer than five pages and spend less time on a page.”
“The social-network users are scooping up the cherries and whipped cream of the news,” Poundstone writes. “Then they move on to whatever catches their birdlike attention.”
NY Post...How Google is making you stupid
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