In a sea of information with so many interesting things to see, how does one filter out the crap? I see the internet a lot like I see the ocean. One could spend their entire life exploring the ocean and still not even see a measurable fraction of it. Clay Shirky had such a great point about information overload, I totally agree with him. The problem is not information overload, it’s filter failure.
Spam has become so pervasive that it has become routine for people to quickly filter through them when they first open their inbox. As spammers are getting smarter and more clever and with deceptive and fraudulent websites all over the place people are needing to learn more and more skills to be able to filter valuable or interesting information from the crap. Howard Rheingold came up with the term infotention, which he describes the mental ability to deploy the form of attention appropriate for each moment as an essential internal skill for people who want to find, direct, and manage streams of relevant information by using online media knowledgeably.
I see how I have begun to naturally develop some of that ability from experience and spending a lot of time online. I still have a lot to learn though. Some of his suggested techniques I haven’t used before have already helped me a lot like Google Reader, pervasive searches, verifying the information at sites like Snopes.com and factchecked.org. Even all the tools out now, it still seems hard at times to truly be able to decipher the good from the junk. One of my solutions is probably a lot like a scuba diver’s solution. You find a place that has lot to explore, that’s reliable, interesting and then regularly visit.
Another thing I have learned is that most of what people have to say is not that interesting to me. This has presented a challenge to me when using Twitter. I want to engage in the community there but it gets so overwhelming to me at times. And then when I find someone what has a lot of interesting things to say, they already have thousands of followers and don’t’ have time to respond to me or build a “friendship” with me. Of course, I have to look in the mirror. How interesting is the stuff that I’m putting out there? Am I putting out useful information? I guess all that really just depends on who is reading or looking at my stuff, useful to some, crap to others.