this year i read a book by Alan Jacobs called The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. it’s a book not without its own pleasures, not least the long list of new books i wanted to seek out after Jacobs had quoted from them.
at about the midpoint of the book, he quotes someone called Clay Shirky on the dangers of information overload. Shirky says that it’s not a glut of information that’s the problem, but rather the “filter failure.” when i read this, there was the glimmer of recognition. here was something i had never put words to, never given much thought. but somehow it sounded just right.
i use filters in almost all my dealings on the web, ways in, sites that act as doorkeepers. one of these is Open Culture. i first came across this great body of work through Tonia. this week they posted a link to a short film of Joan Didion reading from her new book Blue Nights. the film is lovely and haunting and makes me ache to hold the book in my hands. (alas i am #179 on the wait list at our library!)
in the last few days there have been murmurings about “curated content.” i love the echos of the museum in that version of the filter. so, go and watch the Didion movie. it tears your heart out a little. and i’ll be here thinking about filters and curated content and always finding just what we need.