There are three ways to spend your day working in the knowledge economy.
The first day is to spend it trending. Follow the popular topics on Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube. This is good for serendipitous moments of discovery, awareness of the world, and to ‘keep-up’ with what the external algorithms suggest.
The second way to spend your day is to spend it in the feed. Cultivated email, RSS, and perennial podcasts. An infovore knows what they like and has is delivered. Often it will be confirmatory information from familiar sources, that’s okay if you’re honest about it.
The final way to spend your day is in search. There’s something to be curious about and you intend to do just that. Google offers the broadest service but new entries like Listen Notes and Twitter search modifiers have started to index novel parts of the internet.
There’s no ‘best practice’ for the 3 Ways to Work, rather the work of the day dictates the way.
Much of what we call knowledge work focuses on decision making and much of this is a cycle between the exploration of the new and application of the familiar. It’s a balance between finding new things and digging into curio-seams.
Tyler Cowen is an example. His feeds at Marginal Revolution and Twitter offer the day-to-day goings-on, but searches on Listen Notes, YouTube, and the blog allow someone to figure out ideas like mood affiliation (my notes here), which is one way we make mistakes.
For example: Are plastic bags more harmful than paper? Are bag-bans beneficial? What’s the metric? We’ve already noted another Cowen-ism about solving for the equilibrium, but without search, we’d have missed the idea about mood affiliation. Cowen told Russ Roberts:
“Plastic is often more environmentally friendly than having a paper bag because it takes less energy to make and dispose of. Plastic is better for the world and can even be better than those reusable cloth bags unless you use them two-hundred times and up but that’s hard to do and that’s the break-even point. The environmental virtues of plastic compared to a lot of other alternatives is underrated.”
The question of bag bans for me was pure mood. Us good, them bad. I didn’t consider transport costs (paper is much heavier) and production costs (efficiency figures). Instead, I took the easy route of WYSIATI: what you see is all there is, and all I see in my laundry cupboard is plastic bags.