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Information overload in the digital arena

Nowadays, it becomes obvious that we are overwhelmed by information. Tremendous amount of information and data are being generated every minute. Information scientists don’t share a uniform definition of information overload (proliferation of available data, degradation of information, noise-like, irrelevant information…etc). Sam berner, argued in her article: Information Overload or Attention Deficiency? that information overload occurs when individuals are aware of relevant information but do not have the time to locate and use it. Even using Web tools like google to find information may result in data smog.  Futurist Alvin Toffler, who popularized the term information overload, describes IO “as the difficulty a person can have understanding an issue and making decisions that can be caused by the presence of too much information”. The Information Overload Research Group (IORG)  acknowledges information overload as “a problem that diminishes the productivity and quality of life of knowledge workers worldwide. Besides, research on the dilemma of information overload has not reached yet the “taken for granted” status.

Let’s admit it: there is too much content out there! The large amount of online content created is begging for synthesis and filtering for strategic and quality purposes. Today’s content consumers spend a lot of time and energy to find the best information on the topics that interest them. Content consumers, readers and viewers, also require contextual relevance. That’s why web aggregators are created to gather and guide web surfers.

The Internet marketing consultant jack Humphrey in his article ‘’ the Internet is full ’’ claims that the human curated information hub helps online researchers gather and consume only the best information on any topic. Content curation (vs content creation) offers solutions to current content management. Content curation is a trend in social/content media strategies.  Curation tactic serves as a tactic to sort, categorize and present media content from multiple sources in a way that creates a unique editorial experience.

PBS’s Frontline documentary Digital Nation explores how the Internet and digital media have completely transformed contemporary life.

Spafax Content Director Arjun Basu talks about content fatigue in his article Contentextual Drift: The Content Industry Needs a Dose of Reality. As “real people are suffering from content fatigue. It’s why we’re hearing more and more about “context.” Suddenly Content Marketing has become Context Marketing. The co-founder of List.ly, Nick Kellet has curated a list of top rank articles on Context Marketing vs Content Marketing : Research. Kevin Jorgensen, a blogger at Innovative Marketing Resources has summarized some examples of how effectively amazon uses Context Marketing.

However, other Internet experts claim that the problem is not information overload but filter failure. The Social Media Theorist Clay Shirky argues that our systems for managing information abundance are swamped by the growth of information.  M. Shirky presented a lecture on the subject from the Web 2.0 Expo NY available at  boingboing Videos

Some argue that the problem is still information overload and not filter failure, others think it’s both. Information architecture field may have an answer to this polemic, particularly when we position information overload as a consequence of filter failure. Nathaniel Davis, an information Architect suggests in his article    Information Overload, Reloaded  how information overload can be quantified as two unique conditions that are ideal for further investigation in theory, research and practice.

Information production is always necessary for knowledge advancement. IT people, communication experts and content creators and consumers must all work together to face the challenges of providing the public with high-quality and relevant information products.

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