How do other people deal with the torrent of information that pours down on us all? What sources can't they live without? We regularly reach out to prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts and the literary world, to hear their answers. This is drawn from a conversation with Moby, currently on tour in support of his latest album Destroyed.
At the risk of sounding pedestrian I'll be completely honest: the first thing I do in the morning is check Google News, partially because it seems sort of random and unbiased and partially because I tend to stay in hotels that don't necessarily have the fastest Internet connections. The nice thing is that it loads quickly no matter where you are. From there, I follow the headlines. If it's a parochial news item then I might go to a local site, if it's something international, then I'll go to the BBC or--every now and then--CNN. And, just out of perverse interest, I may look at Fox News to see the neocon spin on things.
One of my weird obsessions is with a few different science news sites. Even though I'm a college dropout I still have this dilettantish interest in science. So after looking at the news, I tend to go to Science Daily, which is sort of like a clearinghouse for anything that's going on in the world of physics, chemistry, health or anything pertaining to science. I actually end up spending more time there than I will with the regular news sites.
On my browser, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times are bookmarked along with NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day--which, all things considered, is probably the best site on the internet. It's amazing, just everyday a different picture from the NASA archives. I also have the Hasbro Scrabble Dictionary bookmarked because the main thing I use Facebook for is playing Scrabble with my nerdy friends.
My favorite thing about Facebook is seeing how people choose to present themselves. It's especially interesting when my friends change profile pictures: I like imagining them looking through their pictures and finding the right one that they feel perfectly sums up how they want to be seen and then cropping it. The narrative and process behind the selection of a profile picture is really endearing.
On tour, a lot of time is spent waiting in airports or in the back of cars. That's when I'm at my most loquacious on Twitter. Sometimes the site can be really practical. If I'm playing a concert somewhere it's a way of letting people know what time I'm going on and that I'm actually in the country getting ready to play. Other times Twitter can be just pointless nonsense. I sometimes look at the @-mentions but, since there's so many people following, I make it a point to never retweet anything because I feel like if I respond to one person's item than I end up disappointing--or irritating--all the people I didn't respond to.
Since 99 percent of my current touring is outside the United States, in airports I'll pick up the International Herald Tribune. There's a really nice sense of comfort you get when, say, you're in an airport in Minsk, Belarus and the only English language publication is the Herald Tribune. I also try to read The Economist every week in print. I've been reading it for about twenty years and noticed that all those years ago it was a lot more right-wing. Now, politically, it's really centrist and I like how unbiased it generally is--I mean it's definitely biased toward free markets but apart from that it seems really nicely apolitical.
For touring, my Kindle is just about the greatest thing I own. I have a few hundred books on it and have recently been going back and rereading Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy. When I was in college I was a philosophy major and now I feel like forgotten almost everything I've learned. So I'm putting myself through a Bertrand Russell refresher course. On tour, however, I also tend to read a lot of what you'd probably call plot-driven airport fiction--I go through that like water.
I'm wary of saying the last thing I usually read at night. It's probably my favorite book in the world but it makes me sound even more like a new age cliché than I already do. When I was sixteen years old I had a huge crush that was unreciprocated, but she was really into Taoism. And so she got me to read the Tao-te-Ching. Now, almost every night before going to sleep I read something in it. I like a lot of different spiritual traditions but that's sort of the one I keep coming back to.