Pointless information

The internet is a repository of lots of useful information, but it’s also awash with pointless information. The largest seam of irrelevance, from which nuggets of throwaway statements and angry rantings can be extracted, is user opinion. Just look on any website comment section. Luckily these postings tend to be quite ephemeral and drift into oblivion after a while so it’s largely pointless getting worked up about their pointlessness.
No, the nuggets of pure pointless gold that I find quite amusing are an affliction of journalism. Below are two from the past few days of news browsing.

“The three-bedroom property from which Mr Young fell 60 feet is next door to an apartment once owned by the Beatles drummer Ringo Starr”
This was in an article that had already highlighted that Mr Young was a millionaire living in a swanky district. Maybe the journalist felt that finding a celebrity who once lived close by was great investigative journalism. The insertion of celebrity into journalistic articles seems to be increasing and indicates that writers often feel readers won’t find merit in the article unless it contains a relatable pop. culture reference. We can only imagine the shock of the neighbours to seeing the unfortunate Mr Young if we have a mental image of Ringo Starr stood in his doorway watching events.

“The power produced by the three engines is equal to that from 12 Hoover Dams”
This is in reference to Nasa’s new Orion space craft, but what are we supposed to take from this information. It’s to simplify and give a sense of scale I suppose but an article could be written about a dam being built that will generate the same power as a Nasa Rocket. Without useful information about either it simultaneously insults the readers intelligence while assuming a level of knowledge they probably don’t have. This is a version of the ‘if the national debt was dollar bills piled up it would reach the moon!’ sort of statement. This is more succesful at generating a sense of scale as everyone knows how thin a dollar bill is compared with the distance to the moon. Care needs to be taken though to put these comparisons in context to avoid the reader drawing incorrect conclusions; While the national debt might be enormous, is it large or small in a historical context


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