Information overload is something people generally try to avoid. But when there’s actual earth-shaking news like the current financial crisis, many people actively seek it out. The New York Times looks at the latest iteration of this phenomenon:
The key change in today’s world from one even 5 years ago is that finding information is easy today. It used to be that trained professionals, with years of experience were needed to track down important information. They needed to examine lots of journals, catalog the information in arcane ways and generally learn where things were. Now almost anyone can do it.
It used to require huge amounts of money to create a new song or a new video. Not anymore. Technology changed that. Same with finding facts. The problem is that there are too many facts, too much data. Converting this to information and data require context.
Context is what is now desperately needed. Information used to be hard to retrieve and the context was usually supplied during the retrieval process. Now retrieval is easy but context is hard. Context can only come from social interactions provided by other humans. This is the power of human social networks and social media.
They provide context, if properly used.