The Dog of Three-Fifteen

I never thought of leaving a Yelp review for a Little Free Library. Paradise did. Besides being a lovely piece of writing, it clued me in about the history of the particular LFL, the books that were there, and the books paradise dropped off herself. With the web we have the ability to comment on minutiae that would otherwise be ignored. It allows us to see one thing from an infinite amount of angles, each one being a unique contribution.

There is a short story by Borges of a teen who accidentally acquires the ability to remember everything. The teen, named Funes, remarks how silly the word 'dog' is to him with this memory:

Not only was it difficult for him to see that the generic symbol 'dog' took in all the dissimilar individuals of all shapes and sizes, it irritated him that the dog of three-fourteen in the afternoon, seen in profile, should be indicated by the same noun as the dog of three-fifteen seen frontally.

And so it is difficult to make generalizations about anything on the web. There is no absolute version of Abraham Lincoln. The 'Abraham Lincoln' of Wikipedia today is different than the 'Abraham Lincoln' of the Wikipedia a year ago which is different than the 'Abraham Lincoln' of a blog post by a historian which get the point.

While dizzying, this characteristic of the web grants us real power. We can make unique contributions to nearly anything. To remark about a Little Free Library in Del Mar. To remark about Abraham Lincoln. Not only is each contribution unique, it can be built upon by other contributions to create novel perspectives.

I am not saying anything that we don't already know about the web. But sometimes it is easy to be stuck in the mode of pressing 'Like' rather than 'Publish'. We need to remind ourselves that the act of contributing on the web is not only writing a blog post. It could be as simple as writing a review, making a web annotation, commenting on a post that influenced you. Each creates an artifact on the web that can add to our body of knowledge on a diversity of topics.

We have to remember that the barrier of entry is low. And to just start somewhere.