Discover more from The Honest Broker
30 Signs You Are Living in an Information Crap-pocalypse
The Age of Information has come to a brutal end—here's how it happened
People keep telling me that we’re living on an Information Superhighway. But that’s not true.
The flow of information today is more like a river. A very polluted river.
Folks have been dumping their crap into our information flows for a long, long time. Big corporations and institutions are the worst offenders—they actually get rich by polluting our data streams. But individuals are adding to the raw sewage too.
Some of them do it just for kicks.
It’s gotten worse lately. A whole lot worse. Just look at the polluted streams of information in your own life, and try to find a single safe space where the data stream is fresh and clean.
Some of us have stopped even trying.
The Honest Broker is a reader-supported guide to music, books, media & culture. Both free and paid subscriptions are available. If you want to support my work, the best way is by taking out a paid subscription.
This is how the Information Age ends, and it’s happening right now.
In the last 12 months, the garbage infows into our culture have increased exponentially. As a result, nothing is harder to find now than actual information—which I define as “knowledge based on demonstrable or reliable facts.”
The result is a crisis of trust unlike anything seen before in modern history.
We are bypassing the Web 3.0 we were promised—which was supposed to deliver trust-based systems and validation tools. Instead we’ve gone straight to Web 4.0, which is like the worst kind of Wild West Web. Outlaws and desperados contol all the data highways and byways. Trust and reliability are scarcer than gold nuggets.
Do you think I’m exaggerating?
Let me ask you a question. If your job was to destroy access to reliable information in our society, how would you do it?
You would start with the 30 steps outlined below.
Refer friends to The Honest Broker and earn free months on your subscription (learn more here).
30 Signs You Are Living in an Information Crap-pocalypse
If you wanted to destroy the value of information you would:
Create a society that rewards influencers more than truth-tellers—and turn every digital platform, large or small, into a boosting pad for these influencers.
Make plagiarism, cheating, and deception totally acceptable, so nobody gets fired from a media job, even for the most egregious violations of journalistic ethics.
Downsize all mainstream sources of information, compressing everything into a few seconds of video or a few sentences—with no context, no nuance, no alternative views allowed, or even possible.
Destroy the economics of local and regional news—transferring their ad revenues to the dominant global technocrats—so that almost every small city newspaper goes broke and grass roots reporting disappears.
Force the large respected media outlets to downsize and fire their most seasoned and knowledgeable journalists—replacing them (if at all) with poorly paid and poorly informed interns and freelancers.
Eliminate or marginalize anything in society that resembles a counterculture—and might possibly challenge dominant narratives and power bases.
Unleash a torrent of crappy AI-written articles filled with errors on every subject, with no quality control or adequate fact-checking.
Flood the book market with nonsensical AI-written books.
Get Hollywood to invest billions in CGI technology, so that fake videos look just as convincing—or even more convincing—than real film footage.
Invest billions in creating bogus metaverses and alternative reality platforms, where absolutely nothing is real—even human bodies are turned into simulacrums.
Put almost every influential publishing house in the world under the control of 4 or 5 global corporations run by people with identical elite backgrounds.
Destroy scholarship by charging exorbitant subscription fees that prevent people from accessing scientific research.
Meanwhile, fill up academic journals with studies that can’t be replicated, because they were written to advance careers and please grant-givers, not promote the truth.
Force everybody to go to a tiny number of digital or media platforms to get information—and then put each of those platforms in the control of a billionaire with an agenda.
Remove the validation checks on the most influential sites—so that they no longer validate anything or anybody, but can be bought and misused by malicious parties.
Replace printed reference books with constantly updated digital platforms—so everything from encyclopedia entries to dictionary definitions can be replaced instantaneously.
Make sure that even classic literary works from the past are updated, so that nobody is quite sure what any author really said.
Discourage people from using physical books, which have unalterable records of the past—even to the extent of elminating millions of books from libraries.
Fill up search results with paid placement ads instead of reliable information, and make it hard for users to tell the difference.
Evaluate and remunerate everything on clicks, upvotes, likes, etc.—so that quantity always has more cultural impact and visibility than quality.
Put a record number of journalists in prison—simply because they covered stories that upset powerful people.
Get every partisan group and political movement on the entire spectrum from left to right involved in campaigns of book banning, book burning, book boycotting, and book author harassment of various sorts. Try to create an environment so hostile that writers even pull their own books off the market to prevent the inevitable backlash.
Turn colleges into inefficient bureaucracies with bloated cost structures, where credentialing and admin layering are more important than teaching. Then raise tuition at five times the inflation rate over a period of decades—so that millions of potential students decide to walk away from higher education.
Turn media outlets into cheerleaders, who can only make money by telling their targeted audience exactly what it wants to hear.
Reward sophistry—and make it the safest career path in any information-driven vocation.
Allow scandal-ridden billionaires to buy favorable coverage by giving hundreds of millions to newspapers—who desparately need the cash and can’t afford to say no.
Block all attempts to require transparency—so the audience never knows if something is real or fake or churned out by a bot or paid for by a corporation or interest group.
Promote a larger intellectual ethos in which knowledge is equated with power—and make this a guiding framework throughout the humanities and social sciences. Teach two generations of professors and experts that truth doesn’t exist, so that pursuit of power is the only legitimate activity.
Consider this as a checklist to determine the health of your own information sources.
How many of these signs of data pollution can you identify in our current culture? How many of them are getting worse, not better?
Hah—they are ALL getting worse. Every last one of them. That’s because there’s so much money made from dumping this garbage into our information flows. Truth wears rags while deception travels on a private jet.
Of course, this can’t go on forever. Eventually people abandon those polluted streams. That’s what will happen after the Age of Information crashes.
The gold standard is trust, not information. A single trustworthy voice is worth more than ten thousand bot-written articles.
Our society as a whole hasn’t figured this out yet. But nothing prevents you from taking prudent steps on your own. Find those trusted voices—nurture them, support them, and spread the word.
They are our cleansing agents They are the pure streams in a polluted ecosystem. They are our emerging counterculture—still fragile now but gathering momentum. Soon enough, others will join us. In the meantime, don’t swim in those dirty waters.