Filtering the Tower of Babel?

Too much information, and so much of it lost. An unindexed Internet site is in the same limbo as a misshelved library book. This is why the successful and powerful business enterprises of the information economy are built on filtering and searching. Even Wikipedia is a combination of the two: powerful search, mainly driven by Google, and a vast, collaborative filter, striving to gather the true facts and screen out the false ones. Searching and filtering are all that stand between this world and the Library of Babel. (p. 410, Chapter 15: New News Every Day)

This passage seemed to be the most thought provoking because it makes me delve into the unknown world called the Internet and its filtering abilities. Cat videos and civil war facts have nothing really in common but they can all be found in one place, the Internet. This is where the idea of filtering pops in. Past purchases can stick with your computer’s history and keep bringing up ads related to your purchase. This is filtering to one’s own taste.

Through James Gleick’s The Information, I can get a gist of what he is trying to say about information. It all started with the upgraded creation of the transistor and the bit. This led to way too much information at once, or information overload. Too much information of one idea isn’t bad, but too much information of more than one idea is, though. I go on the Internet to look up math help but then get sidetracked to youtube. This is very dangerous for students like us, because too much information can be distractive and disruptive like the “Leave Britney Alone” video. Filtering is a good option for information especially if they do not want to go through all the billions of search pages that Google offers. All the information that is available is great and all but there is a time and place for funny youtube videos and math help. With this filtering process, time is saved and used for other purposes.

Businesses today use filtering to get the information more efficiently. Like the passage states, Wikipedia is a good example. They categorize their information and their information is usually correct. They have editors to fix wrong information but not all of them can be fixed because there is so much information out there and information can change daily. The last sentence of the passage really struck a cord with me. It is, in a way, very true. The world’s information contains the Library of Babel. All someone needs to do is filter the information they want into creating their Library of Babel.

One thought on “Filtering the Tower of Babel?”

  1. There is a lot of information scattered everywhere over the internet, however the internet also offers a place to get unlimited information on what you need to learn. Like you said, information can be “disruptive and distractive,” but on the other hand, if used correctly, the information on the internet can be an unlimited source of knowledge and wisdom. We discussed in class that knowledge and wisdom comes from interpreting information correctly, and since the internet contains vast amounts of information, we can definitely use that to our advantage. If we know how to use information correctly, then we can get a job from all those businesses that filter information, like you mentioned. There is tons of useless information on the internet that can cause “information overload,” but i think we are still learning how to overcome this problem, and once we do, we will have unlimited knowledge at our fingertips.

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