Signal, Noise and Neal Stephenson’s New Novel

I’m a big fan of Neal Stephenson’s brand of “realistic” science fiction (Snow Crash is one of my all-time favorites), so this TechCrunch headline caught my eye: “Neal Stephenson’s New Novel Makes Me Want to Kill the Internet“.

The headlined post is a review of Stephenson’s new novel, Anathem, and in it the reviewer describes an even more forceful take on my recent musings on Signal, Noise and Twitter:

“…the video and telecom-addled civilization that bustles outside their walls is full of shallow and incorrect knowledge. People who’ve never taken time to study anything feel they know everything. Constantly distracted by their jangling electronic gizmos, they can’t comprehend the powerful ideas and complex systems wrought by thousands of years of civilization. Their smart machines make them dumb.”

I’m not quite ready to banish my computer from my life, but I’m sympathetic to the position that turning down your content velocity can radically improve the quality of your processing. Stephenson’s new novel just takes that idea to its logical extreme. Definitely adding this one to my summer reading list.