Since the introduction of the internet and it’s connectivity to the general public, information stored in the “cloud” has since multiplied to the point that we can’t possibly read it all, or can we? Considering that the majority of Internet usage is done in alphabets, commas, full stops and spaces, what if there is a place that every possible combination of alphabet words exists? In the Library of Babel on the internet, every possible combination of “words” using alphabets, commas, full stops and spaces is on it. Searching up from the last sentence before this line, it is on the library word for word, however, it is not only one exact copy but multiple times. This leads to the thought, the chances of someone writing something exactly similar within limited writing range should not be possible yet it exists and before I have even written or thought about it!
How does this relate to the Internet exactly? Power browsing is the act of reading through lines and lines of words (in this case alphabets, commas, full stops and spaces) selectively. Is it bad to power browse though? Just like the Library of Babel, many things in the library are just random strings of alphabets to us unless we have an interest in it. Imagine reading the Holy Bible as a strict atheist for example, you would most likely be skipping many things and finishing the entire book faster than a Christian would. However, to always power browse, may not be a good thing. It may be good to know something extensively and in depth but to only know about that specific thing is not a healthy lifestyle. Though it is not impossible, interacting and socializing would be a lot harder unless one knows sufficiently about other things out of their area of expertise as they wouldn’t be able to “connect” with the other individual and effectively socialize to the benefit of both.
That said, it is also not easy to allow all the information we read to sink in and/or to digest all that knowledge. Our cognitive capacity is just like a water bottle; information that we see and/or read would take up parts of the water bottle before fully kept in memory much later on. Thus browsing on the Internet has a high cognitive load on our brain just by the sheer amount of information we have access and/or thrown at us lumps at a time. That is true but only to an extent. Selective reading thus comes into play to help lower the cognitive load on our mind. That is, reading through the information presented but skipping some knitty gritty parts of it and getting to the part that makes sense to the person browsing it. Take speeches for example, using a speech intended for scientists about quantum computing to businessmen and businesswomen would not be helpful at convincing them to contribute financially towards it’s development. In this case, the person reading up is both the listener and the person giving the speech. Take it this way, in this particular case of reading information selectively, the person is passively “listening” to the information but at the same time actively arranging their “speech” to help sense of the information to the listener part of them in a timely matter while trying to avoid exhausting himself/herself cognitively at the same time.
Internet browsing has not gone any easier by the second and will likely never be. The old ways of browsing through the Internet line by line as if it’s a book of sorts if not always possible anymore. However, power browsing and selective reading can help us make better sense while keeping us “sane” when browsing the Internet. Although not reading up extensively on the details of a certain thing may prove detrimental to the reader in the future, there’s nothing stopping the person from ever getting back to the same articles to read up on what they did not read the first time.
Library of Babel
Search result (one example)