Worth reading today

From Ars Technica, why tablets are yet one more way to waste your time:

In fact, even when I’m traveling, I don’t bring the iPad if I plan to be productive. I find most apps to be a waste of time—often they’re incredibly fun and fascinating wastes of time, but they’re still time wasters. And even the productivity apps that I love, like scientific and/or financial calculators and things like OmniFocus, have desktop counterparts that I’m faster with….

Some of the really savvy new media efforts like Flipboard are exciting, but after the initial “wow” factor wears off, these apps mainly serve to remind me that there’s already too much good stuff to read out there, and that my life is slipping away from me in an infinite stream of interesting bits about smart animals, dumb criminals, outrageous celebs, shiny objects, funny memes, scientific discoveries, economic developments, etc..

And, from the NYRB, Freeman Dyson on James Gleick’s forthcoming book:

Gleick’s book has an epilogue entitled “The Return of Meaning,” expressing the concerns of people who feel alienated from the prevailing scientific culture. The enormous success of information theory came from Shannon’s decision to separate information from meaning. His central dogma, “Meaning is irrelevant,” declared that information could be handled with greater freedom if it was treated as a mathematical abstraction independent of meaning. The consequence of this freedom is the flood of information in which we are drowning. The immense size of modern databases gives us a feeling of meaninglessness. Information in such quantities reminds us of Borges’s library extending infinitely in all directions. It is our task as humans to bring meaning back into this wasteland. As finite creatures who think and feel, we can create islands of meaning in the sea of information.

Author: Mike White

Genomes, Books, and Science Fiction

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