Casnocha on Tyler's Next Book
By Arnold Kling
Reviewing Tyler Cowen’s Create Your Own Economy, Ben Casnocha writes,
when culture is free and a click away, as it is on blogs and Twitter and the broader Internet, we sample broadly and consume it in smaller chunks: “When access is easy, we tend to favor the short, the sweet, and the bitty. When access is difficult, we tend to look for large-scale productions, extravaganzas, and masterpieces,” writes Cowen. “The current trend–as it has been running for decades–is that a lot of our culture is coming in shorter and smaller bits.” Think 30-second YouTube clips instead of a full movie, iTunes singles instead of complete albums, two paragraph blog posts instead of an entire essay. And now the 140-character limit on Twitter instead of a blog-style free-form text box.
The second reason is the intellectual and emotional stimulation we experience by assembling a custom stream of bits. Cowen refers to this process as the “daily self-assembly of synthetic experiences.” My inputs appear a chaotic jumble of scattered information but to me they touch all my interest points. When I consume them as a blend, I see all-important connections between the different intellectual narratives I follow a business idea (entrepreneurship) in the airplane space (travel), for example. Because building the blend is a social exercise real communities and friendships form around certain topics my social life and intellectual life intersect more intensely than before. And I engage in ongoing self-discovery by reflecting upon my interests, finding new bits to add to my stream, and thinking about how it all fits together.
I think that Casnocha does a better job of imposing order on Tyler’s book than my own review.
Sometimes, a book will consist of one idea for an essay, stretched to book length. Create Your Own Economy is more like the opposite. It is many essays, some of which are so compressed that you have to sit for a while and fill in some of the explanatory material yourself. If you read Tyler’s blog at marginalrevolution.com, you will be familiar with that feeling.