FARNAM STREET

The Era of Fake Knowledge: Why It’s Never Been Easier To Fake What You Know

(Wikimedia Commons)

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” — Mark Twain

Recently, Karl Taro Greenfeld, a journalist and author, published an op-ed in the New York Times on faking cultural literacy.

“It’s never been so easy,” he wrote, “to pretend to know so much without actually knowing anything. We pick topical, relevant bits from Facebook, Twitter or emailed news alerts, and then regurgitate them.” Read More

FARNAM STREET

Something For Nothing: The Illusion of an Education on the Internet

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I imagined that spending time on the internet would be a fun way to learn new things. That was the promise right? Well it turns out to be nothing more than an illusion in practice.

It struck me one day while looking at my Twitter feed that most of it was junk. But like the bowl of potato chips at a party that I didn’t want and tried to avoid, I consumed it anyway. But why, I wasn’t sure.

I realized that I was moving in that direction too. At Farnam Street, the website I run with the goal of mastering the best of what other people have already figured out, I experimented with headlines recently to find out what was really going on. Read More

FARNAM STREET

Hey Bossman, Reading Books IS Work

What counts as work nowadays? (Wikimedia Commons)

One of my beefs with the modern office is that you need to be seen as working, even if it’s an illusion. And what classifies as “work” is often defined by the quality of your leadership.

If you work in a fast-food or retail job, you’re always on the go. These are hard jobs. There is never a down moment. If you’re caught sitting more than once on your shift you’re generally fired. In these settings, work is easily defined and jobs generally mechanical. There is always something to do and it’s easy for your boss to see when you are working and when you are not. Read More