When Information Bursts Forth

“I don’t think we’re ready for highly searchable, easily accessible, leaks and data dumps. We are not a particularly measured society, and this sort of information actually rewards a sense of historical context and measured analysis. We like to validate assumptions, not explore corpora.”
— You will not be surprised to learn that the next line in Awl pal Paul Ford’s excellent piece on how we should handle mammoth data dumps begins with “but.” The driving force behind everything we do as a species is more or less, “Every other time I’ve charged into something without a good idea of what the negative ramifications may be it has ended up badly for everyone, but LOOK AT THIS THING I REALLY WANT TO DO IT I’m going to tell myself this time it’ll be FINE.” If we saw a shiny button we had never seen before with a sign on top that read “I’M NEW, PRESS ME AND DIE” we would press it because we focus on the “NEW” part, not the “DIE” part. We’re big dumb babies and we can’t help ourselves and we never learn. We don’t do subtlety, we don’t do restraint, and we don’t do a whole lot of worrying about how badly our poor impulse control has served us thus far. I’d say we get what we deserve but the way it seems to play out is that we get all the pleasure and it is the next generation and those least able to afford it who get handled the bill for the “deserve” part. Wait, where was I? Oh, right, Paul Ford’s excellent piece on how we should handle mammoth data dumps makes some very interesting points. I even took time off from finishing his article on code — I’m 80% of the way through, I swear! — to read it. Go take a look.

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