The Information Age – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

2010 September 19

The typical person has access to more information than ever before in the history of mankind. For example, it has been said that a weekday edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in an entire lifetime in 17th-century England. Whereas, information gathering posed the greatest challenge in that far gone era, we are now and continue to be faced with the issue of information processing. The term TMI or too much information, once used mostly as a trite saying when someone made the decision to divulge too many personal details, now has a relevancy which spans a far broader context. The USAF deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance recently said, “We are going to find ourselves in the not too distant future swimming in sensors and drowning in data”.

In an effort to combat this problem on the civilian front, widely familiar social platforms like Twitter and Facebook offer their users the ability to choose which people or topics they would like to follow, while blocking or not displaying those of no interest. Additionally, the website StumbleUpon filters information for its users by only serving links based upon categories in which the user selects as most important to them. As these and many similarly focused sites continue to advance both technologically and in popularity, I believe the noise of the Internet could have the ability to become very quiet, if you so choose. In fact, I propose these sites may actually be contributing toward the creation of a state in which the ability to hyper-focus one’s energy toward a given subject and/or cause could eventually have a substantial impact on our society. Unfortunately, like most others, this topic is not immune to the age-old battle between good and evil; therefore, whether or not the impact is largely positive or negative remains unseen.

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