Rabbit Holes

One of my favorite pursuits in the world, is to follow rabbit holes on the Internet. The best way I can characterize this is as a combination of releasing your mind out in to a therapeutic state of play/curiosity, and also developing ADHD at the same time.

You start at one interesting place1, and then follow the next thought, or link, or video, or artist and just fall into the flow as you thirst for more ideas you've never even heard of. Before you know it, it's 5am, you have work tomorrow, or some essay to write, or some project to finish. Reality peels you away from your computer. For now. You'll be back in a couple days to continue this never-ending quest.

Relevant XKCDThere's a relevant XKCD for everything. Source: The Problem With Wikipedia

Although this borders on procrastination2, I think of it as a great way to get around Meno's Paradox:

[A] man cannot search either for what he knows or for what he does not know[.] He cannot search for what he knows--since he knows it, there is no need to search--nor for what he does not know, for he does not know what to look for.

He essentially describes that moment when you don't know how to solve or even figure out where to begin to put the problem into words or a question that makes it conducive to solving.

I think you can solve those problems by having a broad spectrum of knowledge, that you gain when you packrat your way across such vast tomes of information. You don't necessarily need to remember every little detail, but just the basic concept or mechanism.

Steve Jobs has this famous quote on creativity, that I really love:

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.
That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they've had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

And fundamentally, that's what rabbit hunting is - a chaotic, haphazard mechanism to gather experiences. So burrow away, and see where the Internet takes you.

And yes. This post is full of rabbit holes. So meta.


  1. I usually find my launch points on Reddit, especially /r/AskHistorians or /r/ShowerThoughts

  2. Especially if you're avoiding some other work as you engage in this pursuit. I won't even try to defend the uglier cousin of rabbit hunting - the mindless watching of thuglife videos, reading Buzzfeed articles, as you drift in and out of consciousness.