Are You Interested?

ARE YOU INTERESTED?….What is it that makes something interesting? Over at The Monkey Cage, Lee Sigelman glosses Paul Silvia on the subject and tells us there are two primary attibutes that make something interesting. The first, of course, is a particular event’s novelty. If it’s just the same old stuff, it’s not interesting.

Second, though, is the event’s potential comprehensibility, which involves considerations of whether one has the skills, knowledge, and resources to deal with the event. As Silvia puts it, “Concepts confusing to novices can be interesting to experts because experts feel able to understand them.” Thus, if something I consider new and surprising happens and if understanding it seems to fall within the realm of what I consider possible for me, I’m likely to find it interesting and worth pursuing. But if understanding it seems hopeless to me, I’m likely to set it aside and wait for something else to grab me. Or just to sleep.

This is one of the virtues of blogs: at their best, they make things comprehensible that other mediums don’t. Not for everybody, of course: even the chatty first-person style of the blogosphere is too opaque for some people, and the growing use of insidery jargon can sometimes make it as hard to get started with the blogosphere as it is to pick up Lost in the middle of a season.

Still, for some people it makes politics and policy interesting in a way that nothing else does. And lots of interested people is a good thing, right?