There used to be a special category of collective wisdom called “common sense,” something that was usually hard-earned and came with a degree of maturity. But that was when the world was far less complicated than it is now, before the 24/7 news cycle, before the personal computer, the Internet, and certainly long before the iPhone which can behave like one (the PC) and bring the other (the Internet) right into the palm of your hand. I’m not nostalgic for those times by any means, but today we run the risk of information overload and the procrastination — perhaps even paralysis — that comes with it, while we sort through what is useful and valuable to us and what we can just as well do without.
That said, there is something truly seductive about a group of websites that offer advice, instructions and tips on everything from how to survive a bear attack, to how to kiss like Angelina Jolie, to the more mundane realm that includes how to create a living will or fix a dripping faucet. Ehow and About.com have been in the how-to game for some time and more recently appeared SoYouWanna. But for those who prefer instructions in graphic form as opposed to words, there is Howcast, a massive collection of videos that show rather than tell.
Info-lust, the cachet of knowing ‘how-to’ isn’t going away anytime soon. But no one can tell us ‘why-to’ except our own common sense.