No deus ex machina waits in the wings; no man behind the curtain. We have no Maxwell’s demon to help us filter and search. “We want the Demon, you see,” wrote Stanislaw Lem, “to extract from the dance of atoms only information that is genuine, like mathematical theorems, fashion magazines, blueprints, historical chronicles, or a recipe for ion crumpets, or how to clean and iron a suit of asbestos, and poetry too, and scientific advice, and almanacs, and calendars, and secret documents, and everything that ever appeared in any newspaper in the Universe, and telephone books of the future.” As ever, it is the choice that informs us (in the original sense of that word). Selecting the genuine takes work; then forgetting takes even more work. This is the curse of omniscience: the answer to any question may arrive at the fingertips — via Google or Wikipedia or IMDb or YouTube or Epicurious or the National DNA Database or any of their natural heirs and successors — and still we wonder what we know.
James Gleick, The Information