Monday, September 21, 2009

The Problem of Information Overload 2.0

Renowned psychology Barry Schwartz famously coined the term "paradox of choice" which stems in the research in his book with the same title. In his findings, Schwartz integrates various psychological models for happiness showing how the problem of choice can be addressed by different strategies.

Web 2.0 has not made life any easier for us, even though the tools might seem as if they're saving us time and space. If anything, Web 2.0 has a byproduct: an overabundance of information - and with that - choice. As I've argued in an earlier post, I point out:
Information professionals face a plethora of choice each and everyday of our
working lives, from what brand of coffee to buy in the morning to the database
we want to conduct for a search. So many choices, so little time to choose.

Here are some of the social media services that I use: Twitter, CiteULike, and all have their advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, I've found that social media has been a mixed blessing. Not only has information overload produced sometimes confusion as to prioritizing my resources (Youtube first, or Facebook later?), so many tools results in a saturation of user ID's and passwords. Ultimately, we can only have so many sticky notes to remedy our overload of passwords, particularly as services ask for different combinations of numbers, letters and capsizes.

The Semantic Web, as mysterious as it may seem to most, might be one opportunity to solve this password/ID overload. Whereas Web 2.0 is about searching, Web 3.0 is about finding. Imagine a web in which logging in to any browser can bring up personal settings that have been uniquely tailored and customized according to your needs and preferences. In this utopian web, the social mayhem can at least be organized.

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