Matt Drudge and Information Overload
Opening comments presented at the Mises Institute’s High School & College Seminar: “Inflation: Causes, Consequences, and Cure,” April 11, 2014.
Good morning and welcome!
My name is Jeff Deist; I’m president of the Mises Institute.
Thank you for coming, and congratulations!
Congratulations? Why congratulations, you might ask?
Well, congratulations are in order because you managed to be here this morning, either in person with us or viewing online.1 That means you managed to find out about the Mises Institute, managed to find out about this particular seminar, and managed to have an interest in today’s topic of inflation, or at least the broader topic of economics.
It also means you managed to sift through all the white noise out there, in the form of websites, games, apps, texts, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, YouTube, etc., (notice I didn’t insult you by mentioning Facebook, that’s for your parents). You managed to sift through vast amounts of information available to you and find the information that led you to attend this seminar today. You chose to spend your Friday morning consuming the information our speakers will provide, as opposed to consuming millions of other sources of information.
This is one of the important challenges before you: to sift through the noise and discover what is important to you. So kudos on being good sifters. Just being here sets you above your peers.
Now sifting wasn’t always the most important part of learning. Getting information used to be the hard part of learning. Having access to information used to be the hard part. Just ask your parents about this time, a very dark period that actually represents the vast majority of human history: the pre-Internet age! But I digress.
Now speaking of sifting through information, how many of you have heard of the Drudge Report?
Well, the Drudge Report is a news aggregation website, which means its proprietor, Matt Drudge, is a sifter. He sifts through an entire universe of information every day, and brings together the news stories he thinks his readers will find interesting.
Now a few facts about Mr. Drudge that might interest or even inspire you:
- He graduated 341st out of 355 in his high school class. He never attended college.
- After high school he worked at McDonald’s, 7-11, and as a telemarketer. By his own account these were the only kinds of jobs for which he was qualified.
- He started the Drudge Report in the early 1990s with a simple computer his dad bought him, operating out of a one-bedroom apartment.
- The Drudge Report started small, as an email list to a few of his friends focusing on political gossip, entertainment, and media. The list eventually grew to 1,000 before he started his website.
- In 1996 (before most of you were born) he seized on an opportunity to report a story revealing Jack Kemp as Bob Dole’s vice-presidential running mate, and then in 1998 he scooped the major media by uncovering the Monica Lewinsky story. These stories catapulted his website into popularity, making it one of the most highly visited news sources in the world. Here was one guy with a computer in a one bedroom apartment rivaling the biggest news organizations in the world.
- He has never changed the basic design of his website; it still looks like it did in the 90's.
- Today he makes more than $1 million annually.
- The concept of a news aggregation website did not exist when Drudge began. He created an entirely new product and found an untapped market for it, much like Steve Jobs at Apple.
Matt Drudge is a very successful guy, but not in the traditional sense of the word. He’s not a doctor, lawyer, Wall Street banker, etc. He’s a sifter. Which is what all of you will need to be if you want to find success in this modern world. You’ll have to sift through a lot of irrelevant information to find what’s important to you. That’s why we’re very glad you’ve already found the Mises Institute, and we hope you make it part of your education and part of your life going forward.
Now I realize this is starting to sound like a commencement speech, so I’ll just let you in on Matt Drudge’s secret — which is simple but not easy:
Surely this is great advice for any of us. Now I know none of you text and drive, right?
Thank you very much.
Note: Through the generosity of one of our donors this seminar was free to everyone.
- 1. We had more than 400 online viewers.