57 channels and nothing on

There are lots of ways to get news on the internet. You can go to the newspaper sites, you can go sites for news outlets like the BBC, or you can hang around on aggregator sites like Yahoo. But it all depends on your definition of news. That’s because the internet does not distinguish between news and ‘content’, which pretends to be information but isn’t really.

The invention of the online concept of content has also spawned all kinds of dubious jobs. We have content creators, content curators, content marketers, search engine optimizers, and on and on. These are the source of the ground breaking stories currently masquerading as something interesting or useful including “Boy finds Stanley Cup ring in a river”, “Kourtney Kardashian wears skintight lace jumpsuit” and “Bill Gates vacations on a $330 million yacht.”

But content is not about you. Content is about enticing you to click on a link to spin off an invisible payment transaction with the content creator and one or more advertisers. It doesn’t matter whether or not you actually read the article in question. It doesn’t even matter if the content in question is accurate or even real (that ‘Stanley Cup’ ring? Made of plastic). Or even if it is so self-evident that only someone with very little imagination would read it (what other type of clothing could Kourtney possibly have, and where else should Bill Gates vacation?)

There are many people who have written about the decline of civilization as we know it because the internet has turned our brains to mush and hobbled our critical thinking skills. But according to the internet, Socrates raised a big red flag when writing started to overtake the verbal method of imparting knowledge (and threatened the very existence of the Socratic method of learning) because he thought it would eliminate the need to remember things. This of course did not come to pass within his lifetime or the many lifetimes since 399 B.C. until the invention of the internet as we know it.

But back to the news thing. All of the halfway reputable newspapers (and even the un-reputable ones) have installed some form of mechanism to extract payment for their ‘high value’ content, a euphemism for anything that doesn’t involve any of the Kardashians. This is extremely annoying to people who do want to wade into the internet shark pit to find out what’s going on in the world. But I guess it does prove the adage that you get what you pay for. So I continue to pay for my real newspaper. The one I can sit in my comfortable chair and open up. The one I can still read in any order I like. And the one that never crashes, installs cookies, loses its links, or infects me with viruses. That’s all.

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