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Society26 October 2016

Clive Thompson: Our Ancestors Learned How To Memorize More, We Have To Learn How To Forget

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Adam Przeździęk: I would like to ask you first about blogosphere because it is important to people who come to Gdansk for Blog Forum because it’s one of the biggest events for bloggers in this part of Europe. It’s very huge and pretty popular here and this year it will its 7th edition and I hope you will like it, as well as the city because Gdańsk is really pretty.

Clive : I am really looking forward to this event.

Adam Przeździęk: So as I said before my first question is about blogosphere. What role in a modern society play bloggers and what do they mean to you today?

Clive: What blogging means to me is very simple. It’s the act of thinking in public. Talking about sth that interests you, or concerns you, or what you are wondering about and doing it in front of an online audience. Now most often this is done, I would say historically in last 15 years in text, but it’s definitely done in other medium too. Really what you’re doing is you’re trying to think about sth and that for me is the essence of blogging. And also the interest in having a conversation, blogging is not always but very much often writing that assumes that the audience is listening and that the audience is going to talk back. And that’s really a part that makes it really different from traditional journalism because as you know for 250 years of traditional journalism the assumption was that the audience was just going to listen to it and they would not really talk back in any way because they couldn’t, they didn’t have any access to the press. So for me blogging is an act of thinking out loud in front of an audience, and expecting that audience to respond and for you to respond to that and to be informed by what other people say that’s what blogging is to me.

Adam Przeździęk: And what role in your opinion will blogs play in the nearest future? Has the written word got a chance to defend itself in the face of such a rapid development of video content, streaming etc.?

Clive: My first thought is that it is absolutely true that video is a very very very popular medium online and I think that there is probably a lot of things in sort of excitement about blogging. In the early days of blogging when it was only text has moved over to doing video, because people really respond to it, they watch it and they got really excited about it. In one sense this is bad for people who want to write, who only want to write and who only want to read the written word, because if you just want to write I think there is a small audience for that than there is for video. But it doesn’t really worry me in a long run. Here’s why. First off, I actually find that the audience for a written blog is smaller than it is for Youtube. That doesn’t bother me, in fact I even think it’s a good thing because one of the benefits of blogging was always the fact that there is the interaction and the interplay with the audience and you can’t have that when you have millions and millions of people watching what you are doing. The people I know who really enjoy blogging most enjoy when their audience is of a good size but not enormous. When it gets enormous it is really hard to manage. You don’t really know who is listening or reading or watching, you’ve got all sort of weirdoes and trolls which is pretty awful, frankly. And this is exactly what people popular on YouTube find, they can no longer communicate with their audience or respond to them, they are very much just broadcasters. In one sense the fact that a lot of action is moved to video doesn’t bother me. The second thing is that I don’t think blogging is only text spaced. If you define blogging the way I did it, which is communicating in public, understanding your own audience, expecting that they are going to respond to it and being in a dialogue with them, I mean to the certain extend that includes everything from Twitter to writing long posts on Facebook and getting feedback to even doing video blogging. If you think about Youtubers, people originally called this video blogging and because in many respect it’s kind of the same thing. To me the difference is not about the medium which is the same, it’s not about the text vs. video vs. pictures or graphics. The difference is in weather you are trying to think about having a conversation or you are just trying to broadcasting and getting massive audience. People like blogging because it is a way to expand their ideas and to get new ideas and new information and that happen partly because it’s a two way stream – you are not only talking but you are listening to what other people are saying and you are linking to them, or they are commenting on what you are doing, or they are responding to their tweets or responding to yours. That’s a dialogue, a two way street that makes blog blogging. If your goal is just to have 10 million people watching what you’re doing and to makes a lot of money of it – it’s perfectly fine, that’s great but that’s really like traditional publishing or traditional broadcasting where you are Le Mond or you’re the New York Times or CNN or Univision, you are a massive broadcaster and you’re going to do great things, you’re going to collect information, stories and you’re going to send them out to the world and you’re no longer using it as a thinking process, you …

Adam Przeździęk: You don’t have the connection with your audience.

Clive: Exactly! I think about blogging that makes blogging unique. Most often the thing that makes you recognize that this is a very valuable blog is that you can hear the individual voice of a single mind . Even if it is a group blog, group of video bloggers you get the sense that there is a person there, that you are eavesdropping on them as they think and that’s very exciting, you don’t really must have that with mass publishing it’s much more commercialized, they are much more concerned with million people to click on it, link on it. They are trying to do things that will be very exciting or very entertaining. So to me one of the things that really distinguishes blogging, is that there always will be market for this type of an activity is that there is always subset of people who want to that and there is always subset of people who are really excited in reading, and seeing and watching other people as they think out loud. And I think it always be reasonably smaller subset of people like it’s no more than small percentage of people who really want to engage in that, but those are often very important people, because they might be very influential in showing their fields, they might be the creators, or they might be the people who do new things that might be people politically involved or politically active so I think in many respects that the future of this type of blogging of thinking out loud is going to be fine. No matter what medium comes along. You know what is funny too, because you keep on seeing people every time the new technology comes along people some way to do something like blogging with it. So when you saw Slack come along people immediately started saying: Hey, we can actually have a really deep conversations. And they posted enormously long comments, like 700 or 800 words of response. So it’s very much like what you see with a blog. The spirit of blogging gets reborn over and over and over again in different technologies.

Adam Przeździęk: That was great, thank you. I totally agree. Let’s talk about credibility because it’s a very important word and globally as well as in Gdańsk you will see key note speeches or panels about credibility of creators – has this term changed or devaluated over the years, or maybe gained momentum – after so much talk about the strength of the so-called digital influencers? What do you think about it?

Clive: Credibility is a thing very hard to define. It means you trust someone, it means they are not lying to you, they are not taking money from someone and there are always a lot of possible ways when credibility can be destroyed or eradicated. Particularly when you are talking about media that is very new, and young and small and it’s hard to know who is saying what. The great delight of blogging in an online media is that anyone can get up and say whatever they want and the downside of this is that this can be someone who is part of a political group that just want to push Canada , you see this all the time because Russia has its own massive online army, people who are just posting stuff , China has the same thing, here in the US         there are huge numbers of people that it’s not clear whether they are painter or basically they are sort of followers supporting everything done and said by Donald Trump, and people really honestly believe in it. Credibility is very hard to assess in a world where anyone can publish because anyone can publish. I honestly think that tension behind credibility is never going to go away with blogging or any form of self-publishing because it just … the good side is that there is a gatekeeper and the downside is that there is no gatekeeper. A funny thing is that it requires a high level, an extremely high level of literacy amongst the viewers, the audience to be able to figure out : “aha should I be trusting this person”. So it’s hard to get that level of media awareness among the average person. Not a lot of countries seriously teach media awareness kids at school and they definitely should be teaching a lot more and I don’t know why they don’t. Credibility is very hard in the world of self-publishing and I think it always is going to be hard.

Adam Przeździęk: How do you perceive the commercialization of blogosphere and huge budgets required by the creators vs. the effects of these campaigns?

Clive: I think that once a blog become heavily commercialized it becomes something that makes a lot of money it almost begin to drift towards much more traditional publishing model, a much more traditional broadcasting model so it really stops being anything that looks like blogging. It stops being anything that likes public thinking . There are some exceptions, if you take a look in the United States there’s a blog called “Talking Points Memo” by Josh Marshall. He started it just as a blog where he wrote about politics. He got really popular, and he hired some staff and he started being reporting but there is still a sense when you read it. That when he posts its really him trying to think out loud. He is listening to what his readers tell him. And it is possible for something to become a big commercial entity and still retain some of those, I think, very delightful aspects of blogging where it is genuine human thought , a real dialogue. So it is possible, but it is not very common. Most of the time when a blog starts to make a lot of money it really turns to something that doesn’t look much different from a regular media organization. And again, that is not necessarily anything wrong with that, I mean it’s good to have more media but it no longer fulfill that intellectual role that makes blogging unique. Now it’s just another newspaper, another new site, another thing. The interesting thing that I think is that we almost need a new word for what this activity is. Because the word blog itself has become too fuzzy. Does that mean a teenagers’ life journal or does that mean a huge commercial one like Docker in the United States? Are those both blogging? If you define blogging it’s nothing more than publishing things online that’s sort of two open ended. But if you define it the way I do it , where it’s someone thinking out loud, someone thinking with the expectations the audience is going to responding, someone incorporating all the interactions in the way they were and the sense of single mind work. That’s cool. I mean, I can recognize it when I see it but it’s hard because the word blog doesn’t make sense anymore. I feel like I need a new word for this, but I don’t know what the word is. Do you know what I mean?

Adam Przeździęk: Totally! Thank you that was really important. Whether and when the creator limits his own creative freedom? Do you see some kind of situation when creator might limit his own freedom?

Clive: Yeah, I think there are two reasons why people limit themselves. One of them is I think perfectly fine. Sometimes people that are blogging they limit what they say because they are trying to achieve a particular intellectual effect. So for example, I’ve been blogging on and off for like 12 years now. And I do that on my blog, I do that on Twitter, I use Instagram as a part of my blogging too because I have a lot of conversations there and one thing you notice if you meet me as a person vs. how I am online is that I don’t really talk about politics very much. I do a little bit but I mostly talk about science, or engineering. I definitely talk about the political impact on technology but I don’t spend a lot of time talking about the party politics of the USA or any other country. I am definitely clear about my political orientation. I am from Canada. I am essentially democratic socialist, in a Canadian sense. Social democracy – that’s what I believe in. I don’t get big political thread and that’s intentional. It’s because I want people to focus on what I have to say about science and technology. You can say that I am some sort of self-centered on myself but t’s just making decision about what my focus is and why I want people to come and listen what I have to say. Secondarily, it is a funny thing but it’s a separate thing because I never swear. I don’t use any curse words. I used to, in my first year of blogging. I used to swear much but then at some point I decided that I wanted anyone to be able to show my blog posts to young children because they are perfectly fine. I want kids in grade five to read what I write and learn from that and I don’t want them getting turned off because of it. So this form of censorship and self-censorship I think is perfectly fine one because this is really about just the decision that any intellectual or thinker makes as their work on their work. But there are other forms of censorship. One of them is commercial one of them is when you start making money of your blogging …

Adam Przeździęk: That was actually my next question. Does advertising limits this create of freedom?

Clive: I think it certainly can and I think it often does. Let’s have some examples of that. In the early days of blogging there used to be some really terrific in the United States what they called “Mummy blogs”. So this is blogging about having children, marriages, very interesting stuff and this is almost great feminist way and it was the explosion of writing about something that mainstream media really never talked about because it is stupid, who cares about what these mothers think about that stuff. And this is a classic example of self-publishing and allowing people to talk about something that they would never talk about it in a public sphere. But the problem is that advertises quickly realize that these mum blogs were a terrific way to communicate with other mothers, and mothers spend a lot of money. So they soon started getting them offering products and they were expecting reviews of the products writing on their blogs and warned being with truthful saying that they got that for free and it just turned out into a real mess. So this danger exists. I mean it always existed with all fashion media because sometimes all fashion media screw this up too because they don’t run stories because of advertises, they don’t run stories because of distance pressure. The problem is that a large media organization which is 20, 30, 40 or maybe hundred years old often has a set of traditions to help resist that. They have a wall between the business side and the editorial side. It’s not a perfect wall, but it exists. When you have those small organizations – a blog by one person or maybe two people, it suddenly starts making money they don’t have any tradition of thinking through dangers of advertising. So they tend to make bad decisions more quickly. This is why in a weird way, in a very strange way this is why traditional media are actually better at resisting the deformations of advertising than new smaller media. Small media are more helpless, are young, they don’t have the power, don’t have the traditions. They don’t have the reputation, the instinct on resisting commercial activity. In some of respect what we’ve seen in the first 15 years of blogging it’s awfully hard to grow into commercial phenomena and keep from self-centering yourself.

Adam Przeździęk: Next questions is about your visit in Poland because you’ll be in Gdańsk, which is known as “The City of Freedom”. So what does freedom means to you, you as a journalist, columnist, speaker and the author of books?

Clive: I think there are two ways to think what freedom means to me as a journalist. There is freedom FROM and freedom TO. So freedom FROM things and freedom TO do things. For me as a writer it’s the freedom TO be able to do sth, to explore subjects I want to explore, and to be truthful about what I felt even when I may feel people uncomfortable. And also freedom to write about and explore subjects I find personally super interesting. So those are the freedoms to do those things. Freedom also means freedom from which is freedom from any government : “you can’t say that because you’re going to go to jail for saying that”, or freedom from large corporate intrust : ”We don’t want you saying that”. Those are the freedoms that I as a writer and intellectual I think I want. The question is where do you get them? So this is where it has been very interesting looking at different freedom. I get online material that I make for myself vs. the material for commercial publish. So when I am writing for traditional media , like the New York Times magazine or Wire, large media organizations are actually pretty good at resisting government, and resisting corporations. Making assumptions that you already live in a country that doesn’t have any repressive government with speech codes. The USA, Canada where I am from, Poland or Britain we have the tradition of free press. There’s still lots of things that journalist or writers worry about. You have to worry about getting sued by large corporations or government interference at all sorts of levels. Large organizations are really good at fighting that stuff because the New York Times has this huge reputation and a lot of lawyers and they are very good. Nobody really wants to screw with a great big organization. Large corporations and governments are a little more careful before they tackle somebody who’s writing for a great big organization. But because that’s for profits of companies there are limits for the things you can write about and maybe these limits are because there is not enough space or maybe those limits are because that is not something really interesting – it’s like there are stories that I would like to write wider about but it’s not interesting so it’s not a story. Because they have to publish things that the readers are interested in so they can make money. But this is perfectly legitimate. But this have the effect of limiting the freedom of what you do. I’ve written for my blog, I’ve written for different groups of blog like the thing called the “pastry box” or some other, and in things like that the intellectual freedom is so open. I can talk about things I know no one would ever pay me money to write about. I don’t do this very much because I have a lot of my daily work but whenever I have a chance to do that it’s so funny. Even today, just earlier today, I was at my friend’s blog and he was Twitting about, he was blogging about difficulties in memorizing poetry and it happens that I memorize a poem which is the exact poem. So I wrote a response to him talking about my approach. This is a classic sort of modern online blogging interaction and no one in a commercial world would ever bother to pay and ask you to do this. So we have the freedom to do whatever we want in a sense of online world and it’s really terrific. Nice corrective to the commercial world. In the online blog world with the freedom we have to do far more because it’s really up to us. Particularly we don’t have to make money of it and you have enormous freedom. Being noncommercial, I’ve never run any ads on my blog, I never want any ads on my blog, specifically because I don’t want to think that I do something for pay. I want to do it purely for my intellectual satisfaction. So that’s great freedom too. The problem is that because blogs are small and they don’t have any staff there’s just a person it’s very easy to shut them down when the government says we are turning this off or the corporation say “Oh you have copyrighting this stuff and I am turning this off”. Originally in countries that don’t have the freedom of press, you are in jail. If you look at category of jailed journalists in the last ten years you realize that single biggest group of them are bloggers, independent bloggers because they don’t have the defenses that people in large organizations have. So to me that is what is very interesting about the freedoms that you enjoy and risk in the online blogging world.

Adam Przeździęk: What would you call a valuable blog, what kind of blog would you read most, what bloggers need to focus on?

Clive: I like blogs where I have a strong sense of a single person’s voice and thinking. I like feeling like I am eavesdropping on someone as they think out loud. I love that feeling! That’s about style of blogging I like. In terms of content I think there are three or four things I really enjoy. One of them is something that I really enjoy because I am a real nerd – so I really enjoy science, smart discussions about science. I enjoy discussions and blogs about technology but not ones that are just reviews of products. I like really smart intellectual people, and even teenagers who are just thinking in a very deep way when they talk deeply about the deep social implications of technology, I love that stuff. So that can be anything from just an individual post from someone who shows me on an amazing blog and that makes me go back and forth a lot. Blogs they are very good at serving incredibly small niche needs. One of the things I find is that if I am just interested in subject I can always find someone who’s just got some crazy obsessed blog about it. It might not be something I am always interested in. Three or four months ago, in spring, we went camping with my family and I was investigating the best camps to go to in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. And I was walking around and it turned out that the best stuff were these obsessive camping bloggers who go to different places and write these long reviews and pieces about it and that’s credibility and trustworthiness we talked about, because someone is doing it because this is the passion and there are people who believe in it, and this is the credibility. Do I spend all my days reading camping blogs ? No. I did it for about three days. But I am really glad they existed. One of the things that is great about blogging is that it unlocks expertise of everyday. You know, the person who wrote all those camping blogs they probably go to work maybe to insurance company or maybe they work for a restaurant they have all those expertise but camping is what they love and they are fascinated by. And here is the opportunity to externalize all that knowledge and put it out there and person like me can take a benefit from it. For me this is magical, I think that this is what is great about this moment in media and in history.

Adam Przeździęk: Let’s talk a little bit about your book. Your book is subtitled “How technology is changing our minds for the better”. Can you tell me and my readers how in your opinion technology makes this change?

Clive: Sure. It’s really funny because the center of my book I would say is really about exactly what we’ve been talking about which is a modern technology. The reason why modern technology makes us smarter is because it connects us together intellectually. It encourages us to think out loud, to public because it creates the public. We didn’t have this public before. I mean most people before the Internet came along they never really externalized all the stuff they were thinking about, all the expertise they actually had. There was never any opportunity to, and so a lot of stuff that was really fascinating has remained locked away in their heads. The ability of talking out loud in front of the entire planet and make connections to other people to care about the things you care about is at the core of how modern technology makes us smarter. And you see that it’s the same trick over and over again whether it’s with photography, whether it’s with text, whether it’s with discussion boards, whether it’s with a video, and You tubing and whether it’s with whatever. What Internet allows us to discover is that many people, many more people that we’ve ever thought before, have incredibly valuable things to talk about and that are valuable to other people. Clay Shirky, who is a terrific author, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen him at the conference but he is really terrific. He once said, almost six or seven years ago, he said “we used to think that technology is going to make us smarter because it would give us access to more information”. And that’s true. Something incredibly valuable about having all this stuff on tap ,being able to quickly research something, find things. But what he said is that we have always overestimated the value of access to information and we have underestimated the value of access to each other. The thing to me that is really central in my book is that the Internet is giving us more access to each other and the things that are inside of our minds, all of the ideas, all our knowledge, all our thoughts, all our opinions, our conversation that has become externalized and enormously valuable. It’s brought all bad things with it and challenges. Ok, it’s great that I can use the Internet to find people who also care about camping in New Jersey, or people who can memorizing Kim Wayans poetry, or people who care about computational origami, which is a thing I have been recently researching. And these are the things that obviously allows unbelievably ranges people, and terrorists, and criminals, and pedophiles to find each other online and to clap together. The problem with making people smarter is to make everyone smarter. You make good people smarter, you make bad people smarter. What I’d like to tell you Adam is that my book is an intellectual argument not a moral argument. I’m definitely saying that we’re getting a lot smarter, I’m not necessarily saying it makes us better, in some cases it makes us even worse. One of the last thing you really want to do if you have someone genuinely evil is to make them more capable, and gave them greater powers. I mean, good Lord that’s bad and that’s exactly what the Internet has allowed. If you take a look at all on the enormous challenge t’s huge! This is really significant challenge. We didn’t have these challenges much . For the Internet, the gatekeepers of media they work perfect but they definitely kept more of the straightforwardly crazy people in public sphere. How those crazy people have access to the public sphere? So This is the challenge and the human right one too. Particularly if you talk about politics women became magnets for abuse. Every day more and more women, smart women get driven offline because they are just become targets ,for the same thing as minorities. Whatever group that minority is, every country has its own minority and they are always get attacked online. Getting back to the question you asked, can we fix the stuff? I don’t know. Some of them are existing in preexisting injustice, until you fix injustice in everyday life offline probably you are not going to fix injustice online. When we talk online, when we communicate online, when we blog online, when we post online because we are doing so inside the software that was designed we can re-design it, make it better. There are a lot of ways to design online software, publishing software to make it better at allowing people to identify and diminish the influence of fools and disinformation. Unfortunately, this comes back the question by the way about the commercial world because most of the places where a lot of conversation has move towards, things like Twitter or Facebook, they are taking one of the energy that early blogging was, it’s very hard to set up your own blog. Large social network comes along and they have a lot easier to start posting but the downside is that they want to make a lot of money. And the way they make money is by having tones, and tones, and tones of people constantly posts comments when they are leaving. So they are not interested in diminishing the amount of publication. For them having one million people looking at completely sexist or racist posts is absolutely fine, that makes money. One of the problems we have in terms of challenges is that the Internet has made us a lot smarter but also made bad people effective. There is a way to design our world to make that less true and it concerns me that great, large corporations they don’t work hard enough on that problem and that bothers me, because one day you’ve seen when you look at blogs they are genuinely independent, and they are run by people who are genuinely interested in public thinking. It’s that they do all that hard social work of making sure that they are acting well. Anyone who has a really good blog works hard, and care about the value of conversation. You can’t turn them into algorithm, you can’t outsource it, you have to do it yourself. It is a part of the intellectual work. So to me one of nice things I like talking about blogging, and looking at blogging why people still do it what shows you the route to better thinking and better conversation.

Adam Przeździęk: The next question is about one of the quotes from your book. Do you know that one of the challenges is to know when the “new” technologies replace the “old” (books, printed materials, etc.) Can you expand it a little bit, please?

Clive: The good point is that all technologies never really die. I mean that if it is genuinely good for media it never really dies because it is always valuable. People used to think that books are going to vanish, and they haven’t at all. Actually they are doing quite well. In fact actually I would argue because in the United States a lot of publishers are having record profits. And if you define book historically it really used to mean a long argument. Go back and look at to 19th and 18th century publishing when people wrote like 120 books. And look at the books they are 6000 words long. And that was a book, that was book publishing back then . And I often say that actually that’s probably the natural length of a good book, 70000 words. I don’t know if I am right. Books became commercialized and they became too big. We all read these books when we want to say “good Lord this is just a magazine article, and someone turned it into a book”. So good media rarely die. Bad media die. And the 8 track tape is gone and it was a terrible technology. To the certain extend CD is gone, that was always a bad technology. Do we lose any forms of communication in media that were really valuable? Yes, I think we do. Like the hand written letter is mostly gone. There was something kind of lovely about those because they were what economists would call a costly signal. It takes a lot of time to pull out the paper and write the letter and when you get a letter written like that you being given a gift of someone’s time. And there is something beautiful about that. So those are the things in some kind destroyed by emails or stuff like that. I do think actually that we definitely loose something’s longer way. But I would say overall, when I look at to these media I think that the stuff we lost has been more than compensated by the things we gained.

Adam Przeździęk : You write also about expanding our skills through technology (ie. Augmented ourselves) – and now if we run out of these tools, could be observed slowing down the development of society? Could we “get back” to the times when we live without the Internet or smartphones?

Clive: The question here is : do we become too reliant and too dependent on new technologies? I definitely think we really do become reliant on technology. That’s true. Most people these days are just accustomed to feeling very comforted when they learn something, they go to Google or they ask something to their friends online, on Facebook. And it took away people who are in trouble, and in this way people simply gain some knowledge. Is this a bad thing? I don’t actually think so. What distinguishes human intelligence from the intelligence of animals is that we rely on intellectual tools outside of our bodies, to extend, amplify the intelligence and that started with the invention of writing and the use of tools to dig, and has just increased and increased. Because when you look at humans it’s sort of crazy. We are ridiculously unsuited to living in the world. We can’t defend ourselves, we can’t survive at all, the only thing that human survive are all those tools outside of our bodies. I think what happens is that when people grow up with intellect tools, you know I am 47 so I grew up with pencils and paper and cheap pens, and typewriters. So I grew up with that, so computers seem new and weird to me, I like them but they were weird and new. Mobile phones are weird and new. I don’t think about the fact that ball point pen is an incredibly advanced technology. My grandparents didn’t have the access to that at all , back then pens were crappy. Around 1910 when you wanted to write a letter you need an ink-well and you dip your pen in it and start writing. You usually rip the paper and had to start all over again because the page was full of ink and so on. It took you like an hour to write a two paragraph letter. When the frits ball point pen was released in 1940s it cost $100 for a single ball point pen. It was the iPad of that times. It was worth spending that money because it helped writing more quickly. So my point is that every technology we use is completely weird and new, and we became horribly and completely reliant to it. We just don’t know this stuff because we don’t grow up with it, so we think that the new stuff is weird. But our kids are going to become very accustomed to the new stuff, they will understand what is good and what is bad about it. I actually don’t worry about becoming too reliant to technology because we’ve always been reliant to technology. That’s sad. There’s something valuable about understanding what the tools are doing to the way you think. And it’s bad for any technology to become invisible. You should always understand how it’s doing and what’s doing to you. It’s just not easy for a while. Sometimes I love periods when I am completely offline. Most weekend I don’t really spend a lot of time online. Probably because I want to observe the difference between how my mind works when I’m offline and online. Sometimes when I’m writing I just work on a pencil and paper for a long time because it knocks my brain in a different direction than when I am use a word processor. And sometimes when I am wondering about something instead of just googling the answer , I will try to estimate it. Because it is interesting when you intellectually try to estimate the answer. See whether or not you can figure out something reasonable. That seems to be and incredibly important part of critical thinking, because if you with the knowledge you know can estimate the answer for something that is close to what the reality is that is a useful check on things that you know already. So what I think is that it is very good for us to regularly step back from technology we use and operate without them so that we can understand better how they work. It makes you a more critical and intelligent and aware user of different things. But that is sad because I also believe in experimenting and trying everything. So when new technologies come along I think it’s a very good idea to try it. See how something works for you, maybe you will discover something in them that, something crazy and interesting and I believe very strongly in big experimental instincts.

Adam Przeździęk : The last question is about the quote from your book. You wrote in your book that “”Our ancestors learned how to memorize more, we have to learn how to forget”. It’s a great quote I love so can you develop this idea a little bit because it’s awesome!

Clive: In old days information was very rare and so if you wanted to make sure that you are going to have access to that piece of information later on, it had to be in your head because you might have ever get that book in your hand again. Or the person who told you that might not be around anymore to tell you again. So when information is rare, there was an enormous skill was needed to be able to memorize the stuff. In a modern world we all have shifted to world of what I call a library science. You go to a library and librarian is the most valuable person there, he can answer any question you have but they don’t answer the question because they know it, that’s not inside their heads. But they are experts in knowing how to find it. So to a certain extend the navigation of the world, of information is now a crucial task. But if you’re going to memorize everything you encounter, you wouldn’t be able to get a single bit. There’s just too many pieces of media around. It’s like I am looking at my office and what I see? There are six books Powder, two magazines, documents, there 50 business cards. This is an enormous number of media. There is the computer with all info, 5 websites open, and Twitter and this is definitely too much media. So the only way that I navigate this staff is by ignoring most of that. I am looking at it and I’m finding a thing that is useful and I am using it. Something is really crucial, it is really in the center of what I am interested in. By all means I try to keep it in my memory. In fact I know that evidence really shows but when my minds are engaged with the subject we almost can’t stop thinking about it. The act of navigation, intelligent navigation becomes absolutely crucial, that’s what I meant.

Adam Przeździęk: Thank you for your advice because it’s really important for me personally because I always have this problem with too many information, too many open tabs and my browser, too many books but this is very cool advice so thank you very much. And thank you for your time. I really can’t wait to see you in Gdańsk. It’s less than a month so hope you enjoy your travel and staying here. Thank you for your knowledge, bye.

Clive: Thank you. Bye!

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