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How the rhetoric of rare is changing in the age of information abundance

Maria Popova comments:

In a lot of ways, we do that with information. If we somehow stumble upon an incredible archive of, say, digitized “rare” vinyl LP’s or unpublished manuscripts by a famous author, and it tickles our fancy, perhaps we bookmark it, perhaps we save it to Delicious or Instapaper, perhaps we take a quick skim, but more likely than not, we shove it into some cognitive corner and fail to spend time with it, exploring and learning, assuming that it’s just there, available and accessible anytime. The relationship between ease of access and motivation seems to be inversely proportional because, as the sheer volume of information that becomes available and accessible to us increases, we become increasingly paralyzed to actually access all but the most prominent of it — prominent by way of media coverage, prominent by way of peer recommendation, prominent by way of alignment with our existing interests. This is why information that isn’t rare in technical terms, in terms of being free and open to anyone willing to and knowledgeable about how to access it, may still remain rare in practical terms, accessed by only a handful of motivated scholars.

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