Google Alerts has failed me. For years I’d been trusting it to tell me about new news that cites me, and for the last few years it has just not been doing that. So when I happened to go searching for news that mentions me, I found 135 new articles, listed on
And the sum total of those follows across all 135 articles would be far more than the number of you who today are going to go browsing my press page now that you know it has 135 new entries.
Out of contrarianity, I suppose, I browsed it.
An interesting article: http://www.buzzfeed.com/and...
When Intrade (which I must admit to missing) collapsed, nobody seemed sure about what happened. The article is a post mortem.
Also, the following quote about Robin provoked my interest:
"Many other academics, including Wolfers and Robin Hanson, are involved in projects that cater to another clientele: the intelligence community.”
"There's a reason it's called "news" and not "importants"."—Steven Kaas https://twitter.com/stevenk...
You should expect old news to give you less marginal information than new news. If you generally follow the news on a topic, and the new information has been widely available, then the older the news the more likely you already know something about it from other sources. If you haven't learned of it yet, it's less likely of interest
Old news is more likely to be known by others and you. New news is less likely to be known by others and you, but can be known by you if you follow the link.
Not so much if you want customized or iterative answers to your specific questions or point of confusion
Yas! Got 'eem.
I don't want to know how to fit in; I want to be the one telling the others about my newest discoveries so that they'll respect me.
So there's a difference in personalities. Most people seem to want to be normal (or rather normal+) and are in catching-up mode regarding information (low risk, low payoff). But a few weirdos make higher-risk bets by trying to be the first to know, so that they can become the expert and gain respect and power.
I pretty much lose interest when I realize I'm not the first. Fitting in is not my niche, I'm not good at it, so I don't waste any time. These days you're never the first, or don't have anyone to share the information (or funny video) with, but that fact doesn't reach consciousness. It still feels like I'm discovering something.
Perhaps it's just me, but my reason is not actually a thought-out motivation, but habit.
When bored, I automatically check various websites and follow their most interesting links at the time. I also follow tangent suggestions from youtube, google, random blog commenters etc. much more often than aiming to answer specific questions or gain useful information. Most of what I read is influenced by this.
I was suggesting that recency is one of our many ways to coordinate on reading the same thing at the same time.
This makes more sense than what my former understanding of advertising was. Thanks.
Kevin Simler has a great piece on this effect in advertising: http://www.meltingasphalt.c...
He argues that the function of advertising is not to coerce individuals into thinking a particular way about a product, but rather to provide a social context in which everyone knows what a particular product signals so they can make informed choices about what to buy in order to send the right signals. Reading up-to-date news, especially about things that you can't affect (i.e. the primary race of a political group you're not registered for) acts in the same way.
Of course, it was written last year and is therefore much less interesting than your post, Robin.
I agree that coordinating between readers matters. I'm asserting that *recency* matters far less than you implied.
Since your examples are cases where many people coordinate to read the same things at the same time, they don't distinguish between theories where the preference is for reading at the same time, vs. a preference of small chunks. Note that even though people like to eat food in individual fork-fulls, they still manage to buy large units of potatoes, cereals, etc. and then slowly eat those foods over time in small chucks. I don't see why people can't also read a large source in small chunks whenever they want.
Seconding the alternate hypothesis that it's more about having info delivered in small doses rather than large ones. Fortunately, we have some nice tests of whether it's novelty or dose size that matters:
1. Andrew Gelman writes all his blog posts two months in advance and has them autopost. Lots of people still read and discuss articles about things that happened months ago in the news.
2. Lots of people read Eliezer's sequences for the first time years later when Luke wrote his "sequence digest" posts with links to the original posts. Despite the material being there for anyone to read whenever they chose, having a daily schedule of a few things that people were reading and discussing together made a big difference.
You are comparing different kinds of writing and articles, while I'm talking about different interest in exactly the same article depending on when you hear about it.
Another plausible theory is that people want to get news in small doses, that they can chew before they grow bored with the subject for a day or a week or a month, and that they want to be surprised.
Of course wanting to be surprised could be viewed as a way to get an authority to select news or the order of newsitems for us and that may in some way be related to wanting to know which news is fashionable.
I like discussing the news in a timely fashion with others. So that's a fair point.
But let me take a physics example. If I want to learn physics, I could spend a lot of time reading an old mechanics textbook like Halliday & Resnick. That is probably more efficient in gaining basic knowledge than coming in cold and reading about the latest news from the LHC or BICEP2, which requires a deeper understanding to really learn something. And yet. It's really fun to learn at a layman's level a popularized version of what is cutting edge, even if the level of understanding is shallow.
The point here is that News is a broad subject, from celebrity gossip to science news to politics. And the motivation for following each may be slightly different. In particular some of that motivation is undeniably comes from an honest curiosity on what is new in the world. Bottom line is I guess I don't disagree with your main point but with your emphasis. I would be a bit more cautious in how highly to weight the "we like news in order to support talking about the news" versus genuinely wanting to learn about what's new in the world. This is probably skewed differently also by news subject.