tony: great post. Worth re-reading. (small point: bees do not see red, they actually go for the blue part of the spectrum, red is for birds, check out the tropics).  Mar. 5, 2010, 1:40pm

steve baker: Maybe I wasn't clear enough about the "exobrain." The way I define it, it's all of the information in networks outside of our own head. That includes the heads of others. So when you're drawn into an instant chat with a friend, you're feeding it (and yourself as well). I should add that certain companies are busy mining instant chats. (In these early days, this is happening mostly at banks, to monitor their own employees and guard against fraud, sexual harassment and other abuses.) Now, as far as ranking investments of time by how much time they'll save, I think it could work in some instances. But how do you value a time investment that brings you an insight (or promises to) or is fun?  Mar. 2, 2010, 9:23am

whimsy: I think your metaphor is flawed, but this is an interesting question, nonetheless. Spending time talking on an instant messenger does not "feed the exobrain." It's merely a communication tool. Anyway... One way to prioritize information is by how much time it saves you. Knowing how to tie your shoes, or put clothes on, are very high priority - these are quick to learn (for a relatively developed brain) and save a lot of time (small amounts, but on a daily basis). The opportunity cost is very low, and the alternative's cost - that is, having to look up how to tie your shoes every day - is very high. The basics of daily living, then, are all high priority. After that, what's what?  Mar. 1, 2010, 6:05pm