“Ninety percent of everything is crap,” remarked science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon in the 1950s while defending science fiction against people who used the worst examples of the genre to fire their criticism toward the conclusion that ninety percent of science fiction writing is crap. Using those same standards, Sturgeon argued, ninety percent of film, literature, consumer goods, and pretty much everything else, is also crap. This is now known as Sturgeon’s Law.
Many would argue Sturgeon’s Law might be too conservative when applied to the Internet, which, as Clive Thompson explained in his book Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better, “has produced a foaming Niagara of writing. Consider these current rough estimates: Each day, we compose 154 billion e-mails, more than 500 million tweets on Twitter, and over 1 million blog posts and 1.3 million blog comments on WordPress alone. On Facebook, we write about 16 billion words per day. That’s just in the United States. Text messages are terse, but globally they’re our most frequent piece of writing: 12 billion per day. How much writing is that, precisely? Well, doing an extraordinarily crude back-of-the-napkin calculation, and sticking only to e-mail and utterances in social media, I calculate that we’re composing at least 3.6 trillion words daily, or the equivalent of 36 million books every day. The entire U.S. Library of Congress, by comparison, holds about 35 million books.”
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