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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Information overload and how to solve it

10:21:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
This quote by David Weinberger is one of my personal favorites:

"The solution to information overload is more information...so long as that more information is metadata."
I would like to share two excellent posts about information overload that I have come across this week. The first one is a post by Nicole Ferraro where she reports from the keynote session by Clay Shirky at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York:

With the introduction of social media tools, and our abundance of blogs, vlogs, and clogs galore, Web users often find themselves struggling to remain productive in what's been called the "information overload" culture. But in a keynote session here today, Clay Shirkey, author of Here Comes Everybody, said that so-called overload is actually little more than "filter failure".

Instead of blaming the abundance of information available in the connected age, he says, it's consumers' duty to continue to evolve with the systems -- and to reconfigure their information filters, both culturally and technologically.

"When you feel yourself getting too much information, it's not to say to yourself 'What's happened to the information?' It's to say, 'What filter just broke?' " he says. "When you start asking that question, we're going to get some clue as to where to put the design effort."
Robin Good's MasterNewMedia features an excellent paper about information overload by Mikkel called "Information Overload: What It Is And You Can Avoid It". Here are some excerpts:

Information overload is a two-sided problem:

  • The sender does not communicate her message efficiently
  • The receiver is unable to filter the information and evaluate which is the one she really needs

The history of media is thus a single continuous expansion of access to information, now available in enormous quantities - the key word here is quantity. The new is the opposing movement that is awakening: de-selecting quantity and passive reception, to the advantage of quality and active selection. We see it in avoidance of advertisements, traditional media loses readers/viewers, growing numbers even stop watching TV, internet technologies allows customized information channels, etc.

The key word here is quality. For on the one hand, technology increased the availability, but at the same time it has lowered the ”cost of access / entry” and increased individuality. ”Ordinary people” have regained control in a form of technological democratization. The individual can avoid information overload and increase the amount of relevance in her life.

I have not much to add, really. Not now anyway.

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