Data Doesn’t Tell Stories, People Do
Handmade Illusions

What Is Hard to Discover

When reading The Information by James Gleick, the following quote from Charles H. Bennett leapt out at me: “The more subtle something is, the harder it is to discover.”

So many ways to read that statement. 

I am bullish on the Internet, but one of my fears is that decades from now, art forms that trade in subtlety will become like the Cook Islands. Few people will have heard of the place. Very few people will live there. The tourist trade will not be brisk.

There have never been so many ways to take an idea and broadcast it to the universe writ large. And yet the more subtle your idea, the higher the risk that it will be disregarded until someone invests the attention to discern it—no matter how many eyeballs might consume that idea. 

I just re-read a novel whose ideas took me fifteen years to grok, in terms of the layering and subtlety. My mind was blown as a result. I had to give it my due attention for days. Again.

What algorithms will reward this type of re-reengagement? Will Amazon really tell me to go back and read again that book I bought in 2006, because it thinks I’ll find it more enriching today?


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