I couldn't agree more, and often wonder if we've even begun to work out the implications of this.
If one has read Richard Hamming's "You and your research", this is what he refers to by advising one to keep his/her door open while working.
And this is obviously not what Hamming was talking about in 1986.
The interesting thing in the current conversation is the question of how and why reading articles on the internet is comparatively shallow, more shallow than it would seem like it ought to be from the surface. Speaking metaphorically (and no I do not have "data" on this), it is as if it provides druglike stimulation to some outer layer of the brain without ever reaching the deeper, slower layers where the truly valuable transformations are possible. Or, to change the metaphor, it is like the difference between sugar highs and nutrition. It seems clear that it is an addictive cycle, leading to a starvation problem: we spend so much time at the shallow stimulation that we have little left for deep reflection. It reminds me of rats in a cage pushing a lever for cocaine pellets. I sometimes wonder if future generations will look back on this as an epidemic that took a while to recognize and get under control.
This is why, as a Christian, I meditate on something, instead of simply emptying my mind. I spent an hour or so in Psalm 119 this morning, contemplating a few verses, comparing with my life, and shaping my thinking to fit those verses.
Here's a thought. What if 50 of us committed to checking /newest at a particular time (say, 5 am), finding 2 articles worth reading, and adding a substantive, reflective comment to start things off?
That would gigantically impact Hacker News if we did that. In fact, I'm going to do that right now.
We're already seeing conventions popping up to deal with this change in behavior. They just aren't formalized yet.
I think this will be another advantage that hypermedia will have over regular old print, you will be able to present your information in "layers". A TL;DR for reference, a summary, and then the full article.
Of course, that speaks nothing to the nature of the actual articles. I think theres a point where you've "read enough" and need to go do something else for a while, see what works and what doesn't. I took a two month long hiatus from HN to focus on other stuff recently. It helped. The first n articles at some point become much more helpful than the next nth articles.
Abstract, introduction, paper.
Which makes it hilarious when people rail against "The TL;DR Mindset" as something brand-new and created by the Internet.
Or starts hallucinating stuff (ganzfeld effect, Charles Bonnet syndrome)
"Open systems communicate and live. Closed systems do not communicate, become non-discerning, uninteresting and die." - Col. John Boyd
Plus, it's only exploring new things that you get interested and feel motivated to learn more about them.
A jack of all trades is a master of the unique combination of his relative skill in each of those trades.