The Information Blur

On any given day, we are bombarded by loads of “news” be it on the Internet, television, radio, newspapers, what have you. And, as a society, we suffer from a kind of collective attention deficit disorder. Want an example? What is going on in Japan in the wake of their earthquake/tsunami/nuclear-reactor crisis?

It isn’t that we don’t care about following news stories. It isn’t that we are disinterested in the plight of our follow man. It is that, with the march of technology, we are under the greatest bombardment of information any group of human beings has ever been subjected to in the history of the world.

Technology is constantly providing new ways of bringing us information. 24 hour cable news exposed us to a swirl of information like never before. And we really got plugged in, literally, with the rise of the Internet.

The Internet developed and led to what was, not too long ago, referred to as Web 2.0 or the social web. Today, we just call those social outlets by name; sites like Facebook and Twitter. Those platforms allow us to be hooked together with friends and people who, we believe, are likely to give us an information stream we want to follow.

If that were not enough, mobile devices like tablet computers – think the Ipad – and smart phones, with their ubiquitous “apps” – applications allowing us to do any number of things, like follow our favorite news streams – have now made us plugged in even when we are unplugged and on the go.

All this connection to streaming data has made the information marketplace more competitive than ever before. News organizations, marketers and anyone who wants to gain our attention has to work harder to find ways to stand out in a 24 hour information cycle that literally is updated nanosecond by nanosecond.

Seemingly, there is no time to reflect, no time to analyze. Is it any wonder we live in an information blur?

This blur presents a lot of challenges. We, as consumers of information, need to be active-minded in deciding the kind of information we want to pay attention to. With limited time in the day, if we are not careful, we are bound to lose ourselves in feeds of extraneous things, while what’s most important to us is lost.

The Latin expression “caveat emptor” translates to “buyer beware.” Today we might aptly say, “Caveat news follower.” It’s up to us, as consumers of information, to be responsible for what we read and listen to. After all, it’s our time and we only have so much of it.

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