Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Of information overload, and the need to share

Information overload is not a demand-side problem – it is a supply-side problem.

In other words, the real issue is not how I deal with, filter, and process so much information. The real issue is: why are so many more people so intent on creating so much more information – haven’t they got anything better to do !?

I realize the irony of writing about this on a blog of course, because I’ve just added to the information overload by adding one more, fairly useless, page to the web. It will show up in searches, it will be read by some, skimmed by other. It is not exactly earth shatteringly interesting, and I’m not getting paid to produce it – and yet there it is. I wrote it anyway.

As humans, we seem to be pre-disposed to sharing.

When the cellular revolution came along and calling rates fell, people started talking more. It was explained away as a natural thing. People – the argument went – like to communicate, they like to talk; give them an opportunity and they will talk for ever.

Sharing appears to work the same way. Blogs, updates, pictures, videos, there seems to be no way to satisfy the human urge to share. It is proving to be even more basic than conversation. The urge to share is so strong that we ignore privacy concerns, ignore the risk of identity theft, spend time, money and effort just to share stuff with friends and strangers alike even when we have no financial motive to do so, even if we know that it is unlikely to be read or appreciated - we just want our stuff out there.

Facebook and Youtube and Blogger et al. didn’t invent sharing – they didn’t have to, it was already there. But they stumbled on to a gold mine when they created the means to satisfy this basic human desire.

The urge to talk created the cellular revolution.

The urge to share created the social media revolution.

What’s next ?

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