It’s no secret that the Information Age is fully upon us. Never before have human beings had access to more information, from more sources.
Initially, the advent of the internet rewarded information providers, giving them access to massive audiences at the click of a mouse. As the Information Age matures and grows ever more efficient, these audiences are becoming overwhelmed with the deluge of information coming at us from all angles.
I quote the oft cited Herbert Simon, credited with coining the concept of the Attention Economy:
“…in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it” (Simon 1971, p. 40-41).
With the overflow of information input we find ourselves exhausted and attention poor, unable to sift through the mountains of fact to find the gold nuggets of relevant truth that will contribute to our individual lives.
What we desperately need are filters. Mechanisms working on our behalf to get us the relevant, useful information to us when we need it, so we are free to ignore the useless clutter. The obvious example of this is the email filter, the “spam filter,” that ideally removes unwanted email information leaving the relevant data for us to process. But how do you automate style? Can you run a program to match our preferences?
The technology already exists, in our brains and the brains of trusted peers. We need editors. Style, editors, content editors, preference editors, opinion editors. People and organizations we trust to filter through the crap and get us what we really want.
This is already going on everywhere you look. This is why blogs become so popular. We relate to a certain blogger in a given area, and we look to them to do the editing for us in that particular field. It is a trust relationship that depends upon the maintenance of shared values and the perception of expertise. I am doing this for you right now. You look to me because you value my perspective on marketing and new media, and our values in this area are in alignment. I am a trusted editor for you in the infinite field of information about marketing. I could’ve written about any number of things, but i chose this topic because i felt it has the highest relevance in this field.
At this point I, your trusted editor, have consumed a dangerously high amount of your attention capital if you are still reading this. I will continue to evolve this and other concepts in the New media in subsequent posts and I invite you to contribute using the comments feature to help build this as a useful filter for future readers.
I was just talking about this last night with a friend, about how, if you’re an information junkie like I am, there is now just too much information available. I used to joke that my three goals were to know everything, weigh nothing and live forever, but at least on the know-it-all score I’m hitting overwhelm. I can’t have ten consecutive minutes of thought that don’t lead to “wait, I’ll just look that up.” And at this point I think I might have bookmarked the entire interweb.
Next I’m going to burn it onto a disk that I can keep in my pocket…