By in Books

Review of Curious by Ian Leslie

The Desire to Know & Why Your Future Depends on it.

If you hadn't guessed, that's the book strap line. I should start off by saying that I haven't finished the book yet. Not because it's poor but because it's interesting. It's full of ideas, the sort of ideas that percolate and grow with time and reflection. For example, does Google restrict creativity and curiosity? Immediate, relevant answers are efficient but they do not cultivate tangential thinking, serendipity and making associations. Google's aim is to continually reduce the gap between question and answer, brain implants are the logical conclusion.

Leslie cites a Reddit discussion. A question was asked:- "If someone from the 1950s suddenly appeared today. what would be the most difficult thing to explain to them about today?" The most popular answer:- "I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get into arguments with strangers."

Leslie's book has made me think about the internet. I wonder if we should reinvent the way some software works and the way we use that software. Coders (people like Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg) tend to be logical and rational. They tend to think in straight, vertical lines. This has resulted in a highly efficient internet but has reduced us to looking at cats, clicking eye-catching titles and writing "search optimized articles". Would it be more creative and inspiring to encourage "going off at a tangent", the discovery of new links and randomness? How can we make the internet more human?

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Feisty56 wrote on September 25, 2014, 9:58 AM

Interesting questions and issues with no simple answers. I suspect if someone from the 1950s appeared today and received the answer suggested, that person would simply ask, "Why?"

BarbRad wrote on September 25, 2014, 1:05 PM

Isn't there a 'random" feature in some searches where you get surprised. I know I've seen it, but can't remember where. I'm afraid life doesn't offer most people time for much introspection if the truth be known. We have surrounded ourselves with entertainment and distractions. That's one reason it took us fifty years to connect a TV in our home. When we didn't watch it, there was more time to read and reflect. My husband was always doing that. He'd be in his chair, reading or just thinking - until he fell asleep. Now he comes in and turns on the tube.

MegL wrote on September 25, 2014, 1:22 PM

With Google, you can hit the button on the right on the search page. stumble upon has a random feature, too.

MegL wrote on September 25, 2014, 1:23 PM

Interesting sounding book, the kind I like to read.

suffolkjason wrote on September 25, 2014, 1:41 PM

To which Google button are you referring?

suffolkjason wrote on September 25, 2014, 1:45 PM

Ian Leslie has a good writing style and lots of interesting ideas, makes for a winning combination.

AliCanary wrote on September 25, 2014, 3:51 PM

I love books like this--I have read Tipping Point and Freakanomics and gotten a lot out of both. I bet I would enjoy this one, too--thanks so much for bringing it to my attention!

MegL wrote on September 25, 2014, 6:22 PM

It used to be that everyone had to use the Google search page to search Google. Nowadays, of course, typing your search desire into the address bar works the same way as using the search page and clicking the left hand button. On the google search page, there is a button termed "I'm feeling lucky". That's the one I meant but I was on the tablet when I wrote that comment and it was too difficult to get the google search page up, to find its name, which I couldn't recall off hand. Am now on my PC and able to type and search MUCH faster.

Ellis wrote on September 25, 2014, 8:54 PM

I dunno about you, but I get waylaid with the amount of other interesting stuff out there and usually forget what I wanted to find out

oldies909 wrote on September 28, 2014, 8:18 PM

Sounds like an interesting book. Might have to read it sometime.