Oh internet, you are so generous. I nervously post a messy, holey, unraveled idea like that (see previous post) and you take me seriously! You write me orderly, considered responses and send me links to things I’ve never seen before and I begin to understand a bit more of what it is I’m wanting. You always did that and I am ashamed to be still surprised. Because of you, I am starting to understand how my long ago, initial, uncertain impulse to venture an unfinished thought online was the embryo of this idea of a collaborative, inductive investigation of big sloppy messes of data. I will remember that in general the embarrassment with which I post is in direct proportion to the kindness and generosity of the responses. Thanks, fellas.
All of this started because we all keep talking about the democratization of information, but taken to it’s logical end, it can’t be. Information is no more democratic than money. Shareable information is valuable when it is not shared. Once it finds it’s level, we’re all in the same position relative to one another we were to begin with; though we’ve likely all shifted some against the physical world (probably not in a good way). I thought and thought about that and gradually fell into the frame of mind that makes showering and eating futile because one only gets dirty and hungry again.
But then it occurred to me that when information loses it’s value, it loses it’s menace as well. And it sounds like a little thing, but that was the moment I realized that maybe the important thing is not information itself or the possibility of highly specific answers, but the questions we can ask of it. We want to be able to inquire in a way that doesn’t lose meaning amidst the wash of data.