Archives for 13 January 2015

Why ‘the tsunami of crap’ doesn’t matter

Andrew Updegrove offers some gloomy prognostications about the difficulty of finding books one wants to read, and the continuing necessity of gatekeepers: reblogged at The Passive Voice.

Actually, his fears are groundless, and his prescriptions wide of the mark. Chiefly for my own records, I reproduce here what I had to say about the matter, with slight additions:


Discoverability is not linear, but logarithmic.

That is to say: Finding what you want out of 100 different choices is not 10 times as hard as finding what you want out of 10 different choices. It is only twice as hard. The difficulty of choice increases not in proportion to n, but in proportion to log n. (This is why decimal notation was such a brilliant invention. One digit is enough to specify a number from 0 to 9, but two digits will specify a number all the way up to 99. With just six digits, you can choose one particular number out of a million.) [Read more…]