Friday, July 03, 2009

Information Foraging and "streams"

Stream vs Firehose
So, "streams" are the new metaphore on the web as discussed recently by Nova Spivak, Steve Rubel, John Borthwick and other tech watchers. I agree with the "fluid" analogy, but I fear that instead of streams we are increasingly living with firehoses of information being aimed at us. With wave after wave of increasingly trivial information inundating our lives. 

Quoting from Eric Schonfeld:
"...a stream. A real time, flowing, dynamic stream of information — that we as users and participants can dip in and out of and whether we participate in them or simply observe we are a part of this flow."

Information Foraging
Whether we are in the "page" era or the "stream" era of the web, we still have to find the nuggets of information that directly relate to what we are looking for. When it comes to pages, Google established itself as the premier tool to use, but what tool or tools will best help us cull the most appropriate "streams" of information out of the ever growing ocean of trivial "what are you doing now" nonsense? I increasingly feel like I am panning for gold at the bottom of the Hoover Dam - I spend far more time just getting drenched than actually finding anything of value!

Predator/Prey Relationship
Like predators looking for prey, we search out information in the fields we have previously found yielded good results. When the field dries up, we move on to adjacent territory - or we make do with less satisfactory prey. This analogy carries over well to the web, except that there is no physical price to pay (miles to travel) for moving to a new "field" - they are all literally "next door" on the web, but you have to know which way to step in order to get there. It will be interesting to watch and see what tools emerge to help us aggregate, filter, and manage these growing streams. 


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2 Comments:

Blogger ron said...

OK, let me get this clear. What you are saying is, that there is an opportunity for well organized information on any one subject as long as it is current, reliable easy to read,see or hear. And is updated on a regular basis and is consistantly paletable to the viewers taste, over and over and over again.
If this is done, can you make money with it?

8:06 PM  
Blogger JCC said...

That's like saying that you make a nice "xyz" and it is really well-made. Making money off of that effort is related to how many folks would like to have one of your brand-spankin-new "xyzs" and how badly they seem to want one.
Marketing is all about letting folks know how desirable a brand new "xyz" is, and sales is letting them know how they can lay their hands on one.

But, Yes, information has always been a "product" you could make money with, and today the web is connecting more and more niche markets together and turning more information into monetizable product than ever before.

10:46 PM  

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