So how can we leverage the great benefits of a socially connected web into creating more relevance, substance and context? Well I believe that our individual consumption of information can be harnessed to create better information for everyone.
I think we have to start by accepting that how we consume information is rapidly evolving. There is more and more information at our finger tips and it is constantly available. This is a good thing, but in turn it leads to some, and I would believe them non trivial, problems. Important information can easily go unseen, we can become disengaged from the information we are actually quite interested in, we become glutted on so many other tit bits of information, that we no longer have the stomach for the main course, and so lose some, if not most, of our ability to focus when we do try to partake of something a little more meaty.
While google and twitter and Facebook provide us with good tools to find and discover new information via our “friends” and by search, the shear amount of information becomes just noise and information pollution or “infostatic” . I have spent, and continue to spend, quite a lot of my free time contemplating this problem and trying to find a way to cut through the infostatic so that I might find and read the best information that is available on my chosen subject(s).
It is important to me that I don’t feel limited. If I want to stream in articles and information from thousands of sites or follow thousands of people on twitter or friends on facebook, I want to be able to do that, and use all of those sources to gain the great information that many have on offer, but without the infostatic. Our social networks don’t really allow this.
However social curation, as a network, is certainly part of the solution, but there is a whole lot more that can be done in this area. We tend to group sites and people, lets call them sources, into categories and subjects, but what of the work others have done to group and organise things around this subject? Why can’t we benefit from this work? I see no reason why this cannot be done.
As stated earlier, our individual viewing and intaking of information can benefit everyone. Just as an example imagine browsing a new hypothetical information timeline, and seeing lots of relevant information but without the chaff; and not simply questions and answers (as in quora, stackoverflow both of which I love) . Not only would there be less chaff but, based on social curation and some algorithms, new tweets, articles and comments would appear in your “timeline” based on your current preference in subject.
To give an example: perhaps you are interested in a new piece of technology and you are clicking on and viewing tweets about this new technology and searching different search engines for information. You can be sure there are a lot of people out there who are also interested in that technology. So what if, based on their “information reputation” / “social credentials” in that subject, certain sources would have their information injected into your stream? And visa versa, you would, if deemed well enough informed on a subject, have your choice of information propagated out to those interested in and researching a particular subject.
So who decides who is relevant and who is not? You do of course, and just as your individual viewing of information can help everyone so too can your individual labeling of information sources. That information would be shared, anonymously, and used to help decide which sources are offering the most relevant information.
I do believe that this is how our information will reach us in the future, regardless of the platform; in fact I would eventually like to see some form of peer to peer system that would propagate this information and the social credentials of its users. This system could perhaps sit feeding your browser information that would then present to you the most valuable information? I don’t know for sure, and something like that is a much longer term and more radical change.
However I am going to start doing something about all that I have talked about, its going to be experimental and a bit rough around the edges, but if you want to join me and see what becomes of it, you can register your interest at srcd.me. It really is just a personal experiment at the moment, but perhaps it could become something more.