Thursday, July 19, 2012

I try to conserve my attention and not let too many distractions or great deals or wonderful-sounding books or movies pull me off what I want to do.  It is not easy since there are many, many great videos, stories, blogs, contacts, etc on and on that may well pay off.  May even be better than what I am doing.  Still, I don't want to frazzle myself to death.  I don't want my monkey mind to jump about even more wildly, staying with even fewer tasks than I do.

My intelligent nephew suggested I check out "Everything is Miscellaneous" by David Weinberger.  It sounded like a recent novel but it isn't.  It changed the way I search for what I want to know and did indeed show important changes to the way through human resources and knowledge.  So, when or somebody let me know about a recent Weinberger book "Too Big to Know", I hopped right to it.  The book is about the structure of knowledge in today's internet world.  Sounds like a widely cast net and it really is.  

Weinberger mentions and remarks several times on the high level of discussion and comment that takes place on that web site.  Meanwhile, Amazon's suggestions or something kept putting the title "This Will Make You Smarter" by John Brockman.  I am a senior citizen and as such, strong claims such as made by the title, immediately elicit strong doubt on my part, right along with doubting the trustworthiness and quality of the maker of the claim.  But I recognize the name John Brockman.  That was the name of the author of a couple of paperbacks I had before the last book weeding we did. They had attractive titles that lured me into buying them: "What We Believe But Cannot Prove" and "What Is Your Dangerous Idea?" ($1.99 on Kindle).

But when I looked at the books, I found multiple short essays.  I didn't like what I saw and put them aside.  Then, the other day something clicked.  I read that Brockman is the founder and moderator of this  I started getting interested, looked Brockman up.  Found that he runs his own literary agency in New York.  I remembered both Weinberger's comments and my rejected books of his.  

I now realize that Brockman's brains and tastes coupled with his contacts on his web site make for very high level contributors to collections he puts out.  "This Will Make You Smarter" has my attention and I am 20% through it.  One of the contributors is Kathryn Schultz, smart educative author of "Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error."  Any collection with an essay of hers in it is automatically worth checking out.  It is certainly true that Brockman has leading thinkers in the collection and it is definitely worthwhile.  

In this day of steady winds of information, often of better and better quality, it is very difficult to focus long enough on any one book or any one show, on any one thing long enough to digest what it is.  Brockman's collections feature highly packed essays that go down quickly but need to be digested slowly.  I didn't see that before.  Like having so many books at my fingertips with a Kindle, it takes a while to get adjust to 500 channels or 500 books and not be distracted wondering if the one I am watching is really the best one for right now.

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