Information Onslaught

Last Tuesday I had a drink over at my neighbor’s house and saw that they had their television set to Obamas State of the Union Address. I offered to come back later or listen to it with them.  We ended up chatting while there was a long segment of congress people and senators walking into the room and greeting each other and by the time I left the President had only just started speaking. I thought to myself, that they should have started the program and timed it to start with the actual address.

I was little surprised when the next day a poll showed that most viewers didn’t stay on the channel long enough to listen to the speech.  Of course not!  We have 8 (!) seconds (!) in a YouTube video to engage our audience, then they’re gone.  TV shows might get a whopping 90 seconds.  

There are too many things tugging at our sleeve to pay attention to things at length anymore and I’m not talking about children or attention seeking pets and husbands.  When I try to settle into a longer article I actually get a bit jumpy and page to the back to see how long my commitments is going to be and if I want to even start to engage.  Books for fun (and I used to be a voracious reader) have been relegated to the vacation back burner and even then I have to make a time commitment to read a few books.  

The other day I heard an interview on TV (while I was either cooking, exercising or cleaning up social emails) where Tom Brokaw (I think) was talking about a new book and said, that today it’s not enough anymore to read the local newspaper and a few trade magazines and listen to the radio on the way to work and watch the evening news.  We ALSO need to plow through a plethora, or should I say onslaught of information form the net.

I WISH I had time to do all the things Tom Brokaw listed – I’m glad if I manage the New York Times and my Swiss weekly newspaper and the morning news. The blogs I subscribe to get a quick glance and I have an ever growing list of blog entries I have to read, I WANT to red, but oh, so little time. 

We thought reading and writing was dead! Social media has changed that to a certain extent; even if the social media prose is not what we (old people) learned in school. I’m reading a New Yorker article (yes, I know) about the kid that was spied on by his roommate in college and committed suicide after the roommate blasted the internet with the news that he was gay and showed video of him engaging with another man.  The article shows excerpts from the texts that went back and forth between these college freshmen and their friends. I’m reading “IDC”, what?  IDC? I don’t care.  My favorite was that the article was full of “WTF”.  We can now officially use the “F” bomb in a reputable magazine because it’s not spelled out, just WFT.  But, I digress.

So, where does this leave us? In a world where we need to be ever more expert at what we do and retreat into a smaller niches to then find out that we have kinda lost the bigger picture (think onion peel) of your work world, your kids world, your community world, your country world and let’s not forget, art, literature, the latest food fad and the newest technological advances, what your phone can REALLY do and you had no clue?  This morning on the news (NY1):  the app is dwindling.  Today the average user uses less than five apps in a week. They didn’t say how much that’s down from before but my guess is SIGNIFICANTLY.  At some point we have to do the dishes and get some work done. 

I circle back to an earlier post on: Curation and the Human Algorithm. I think curation of information will become ever more important to help us manage knowledge without going under in a sea of distractions and inert information. 

How do YOU manage your information flow?  How have your habits change since the first onslaught of social media and blogging?  Are you digging out from under?

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