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Information Hyperinflation


Hey Ike, you goin' hyperbolic on me?

"That's interesting," she said, which means, simply, that it is not interesting at all. Eh, no big deal. "Thanks," I said. Whatever. Happens a hundred times a day. "That's interesting." Make a mental note to yourself to remember the number of times a day someone says "that's interesting" to you and you'll see what I mean. But that pathological apathy, that generalized lack of focus with content streaming from all pores as the instant messages flash, each flicker demanding attention, serves to aggregate, package, and drive this age of information hyperinflation. And so, as information hyperinflation washes over us, the value of it depreciates against the hard currency of knowledge and reflection.

In this past Saturday's Financial Times Weekend Edition there's a lunch interview with Philip Gourevitch, the new editor of The Paris Review, the literary magazine that since 1953 has carried a reputation as a publisher of the best fiction and poetry of the day. Gourevitch's task is to "reinvigorate" the literary journal. In the FT interview, when asked his feeling on fiction these days, Gourevitch replied:

"...[A] lot of the fiction submissions we get are voice-driven. There's a certain amount of accomplishment in craft but it doesn't have anything to say. It's not very enlightening about the world. It's sort of clever, it's a little wacky - it's not intelligent enough."

Sound familiar? You could remold the Gourevitch view into a model of Wall Street research and analysis and arrive at much the same conclusion; style over substance, gloss and craft over something more important and piles and piles of it overwhelming us each day. That is not to say there isn't intelligent analysis and research to be found on Wall Street, there certainly is, I have the pleasure of reading and editing it here every day, but in this age of information hyperinflation it's increasingly difficult to filter out the noise of the marketplace and hear the enlightened voices, the voices infused with wisdom, with meaningful insight, reflection, the hard currency against which information will always be measured.

Yes, we are all content producers now. Do you know anyone without a blog? In currency terms, the goal in a hyperinflation period is to get rid of the increasingly worthless currency. So no wonder everyone seemingly wants to get rid of whatever information they can through any channels they can find. During a period of hyperinflation virtually everything becomes money... except money.

Of course, none of this is today's business. Not necessarily. But I believe it is worth thinking about as we sort through our information and prepare to make decisions that, for better or worse, will likely affect how we view tomorrow. The "money" of thought and reflection grows more valuable every day. And that's what the 'Ville is all about.
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