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The Age of the Infovore: Succeeding in the Information Economy Paperback – Bargain Price, June 29, 2010

3.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, June 29, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Delightful and provocative."
-Newsweek.com

"Tyler Cowen has written one of the most stimulating defenses of Internet information culture."
-"The American"

"A tour de force."
-Robert H. Frank, author of "The Economic Naturalist"

About the Author

Tyler Cowen is a professor of economics at George Mason University. He is a prominent blogger at marginalrevolution.com, the world’s leading economics blog. He also writes regularly for The New York Times, and has written for Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Wilson Quarterly.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (June 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452296196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452296190
  • ASIN: B004LQ0I92
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,613,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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"The Age of the Infovore" is economist Tyler Cowen's personal panegyric to the cognitive abilities of people on the autism spectrum, and their critical importance in an age of endlessly flowing and incoherent information. He discovered his place on the autism spectrum when an adult with autism suggested the possibility. He has embraced his neurodiversity and explored it's possibilities and the contributions that people who are neurodiverse make to our society.

The central cognitive dimension that Cowen examines is the drive to create order that characterises many neurodiverse people. This drive allows such individuals to focus on a single arena of the world, and to bring a depth and scope of understanding to that arena that neurotypical people find very difficult. Sometimes the focus seems out of step with the larger society, and sometimes it seems prescient. In any event, it is driven by the internal experience of the person, and the activity brings great meaning to that person, and can do so to others (see how much of our entertainment focuses on collections).

I know in my heart what Tyler Cowen means.

I learned to read at the age of four and got my library card at the age of 6. From that first discovery of an infinite world of knowledge, I relentlessly tried to learn everything. I read whenever I wasn't asleep, and when I wouldn't be punished for it. I read everything regardless of topic. I often carried 2 or 3 books with me as I moved through my world. I won an award at a Catholic elementary school for a poem I wrote that praised science as the ultimate source of knowledge.

I was hooked.
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Format: Paperback
BOOK REVIEW: 'The Age of the Infovore'

Reviewed By David M. Kinchen

A few years ago, relates Tyler Cowen, author of "The Age of the Infovore: Succeeding in the Information Economy" (Plume Books, an imprint of Penguin Books, 259 pages, index, notes, bibliography, $16.00), a woman named Kathleen Fasanella asked the author if he was an Asperger's Disorder person or a high-functioning autistic.

He relates the anecdote in his quality paperback book, a work that stretched my thinking like the best books of the late, great Neil Postman (1931-2003, especially "Amusing Ourselves to Death" and "The End of Education.")

Fasanella, a devoted reader of Cowen's website, [...], described herself as an "Aspie," the current shorthand for people with Asperger's Disorder, Cowen said. At first he was shocked to be so described, but he writes that in the years since receiving the e-mail he's become comfortable with autism, "and indeed proud of it, but it's not a thought I was ready for at the time."

In the six or seven years since he received Fasanella's e-mail, the world has been transformed into a universe of information, overwhelming many of us, but not autistics, Cowen writes: "Autistics are the true infovores, as I will call them. They have the tendency to impose additional structure on information by the acts of arranging, organizing, classifying, collecting, memorizing, categorizing, and listing."

He posits that many of the geniuses of the past and present have had more than a touch of autism, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. Both Doyle and his famous fictional detective exhibited the traits of someone with autism, albeit the high-functioning kind like that of Temple Grandin.
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So this is a little embarrassing. After thoroughly enjoying Cowen's last book about the culture of personalized information and entertainment, I ordered this book thinking it would contain more insights and practical ways to absorb and filter information. I was wrong, it's the same book. Apparently 'Create Your Own Economy' was a poor performing title so they made the paperback with a different name. I now have 2 copies. I'm not sorry about that, since I can now lend out a copy without giving up mine. But I do feel silly for the error nonetheless.

So a brief review of both:

This is a counter-argument to the raft of recent books published that lament the loss of deep thinking that is caused by being able to google everything and be constantly inundated with data. (the shallows, etc) I've noticed this change in myself over the years, how I read many times more information than I ever did but it's in smaller digital snippets. That I do still read books but that is no longer the majority of my information consumption and furthermore I have much less patience to finish books. On the surface, many people would just assume this is a bad thing and means I'm not as deep or critical of a thinker as I used to be. Cowen argues otherwise.

Remember how in grade school we were taught to read every boring word of the entire textbook chapter and felt guilty or were reprimanded if we didn't? Remember how we were taught that it was bad to mark up (interact with) our textbooks? We also learned that you are supposed to read the book cover to cover. I STILL have a hard time feeling guilty about not finishing books that start to become a waste of my increasing scarce attention.
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