The internet was made for aggregation. The abundance of information is impossible to swallow and puzzle out ourselves.
So we, in tandem with AI machines and social media curators — pluck the highlights and the most useful stems.
Collecting artifacts online is an educational experiment, a place where peer-to-peer networks share bytes of genius. Most of the time, learning improves our reasoning and behavior.
Unfortunately, some users lean hard on data that supports their views. Such knowledge (or misinformation) can be used to propagandize and carry people beyond the parameters of good sense. After all, news organizations prioritize entertainment over quality reporting.
There are no limits to floating ideas that can become instantly sensationalized and highly contagious. “Being informed” feels like an accomplishment. It can also be dangerous, firing up our emotions to the blindness of unnecessary action.
But suppose despite the confirmation biases we kept an element of distrust at bay. Cognitive flexibility is what makes the internet more than just a plain-vanilla copy-paste machine.
When we treat information raw, as medium-neutral, the brain makes space to think differently. Frequent experimentation allows one to connect more information to that existing information, like Harry Reese combining peanut butter and chocolate.
Collisions of thought are at the heart of a remix and the birth of innovation.