Information overload these days is something which we all suffer from at some point. Especially if you are involved in anything even mildly related to technology. I get bombarded by 1000s of pieces of information daily. This makes it difficult to concentrate and keep your mind on one thing. There have been studies done which prove that we live in the age of Distraction. ( http://www.dana.org/media/detail.aspx?id=13126 )
Even if you are looking to make a purchase of an item you might need or want such as a camera, tv etc. it takes forever to decide on what product to buy because of all the choice. The most popular thing we still base our decisions on are recommendations from friends. We rely heavily on word on of mouth when it comes to making our buying decisions. Online product reviews have also become quite important as well. I won’t buy an iPhone app before reading through the reviews posted by users. I have found this has helped me pick the better option because reviews are honest and not created by the company looking to make money from the product. It has also opened my eyes to functionality shortcomings that are not listed in the product specifications.
For me all the choices has created a super distracted and inefficient world because we very easily procrastinate because of distractions and choice. In the new era which the Wired article “The Web is dead” in the September 2010 magazine refers to. One of the authors makes this statement “As much as we love the open, unfettered Web, we are abandoning it for simpler, sleeker service that just work.” The co-author Michael Wolff also points out that media is changing and looking more like it did in the past in his statement “Jobs’ iPad-enabled vision of media’s future looks more like media’s past”. He refers here to the fact that Steve Jobs has made the future of media look much more like media from the past by controlling the medium of consumption. The article also compares how people use to have more time than money in the past and thus could scour the Web for the “creative commons” version of a song. These days we have more money than time so we would rather just buy it on iTunes.
This for me has pointed to a change in how we access information. The one thing that there isn’t online is the need for more information on a topic but there is definitely a need for filters to find us the quality content. I have found that I don’t have the time to filter out bad information just so I can find the hidden gems in amongst the see of information, I personally would rather pay for quality content.
A company who has taken a lead with this is thetimes.co.uk which now only allows you to read it’s content if you pay for it. They have effectively moved away from trying to monetizing the traffic to their website back to the old subscription model. Now it remains to be seen if this approach will work but this could be the start of things to come.
Personally I use to be critical of the iPad because I didn’t believe there was a place for it in our daily lives as it had no use over a computer. I have however changed my mind on this since using one myself. Now for me this has really brought traditional media back to the foreground. I never subscribed to Wired or any other magazine but since getting the iPad I have found a few magazines which I now read on my iPad. Wired for instance is now convenient for me to read on the iPad and at the same time is amazing. It brings the print magazine to life by adding videos interactive ads and more. It remains to be seen how long the gimmick of the Gadget will last on me but for the moment I’m hooked. I would love to consume all my media on this platform as it just all looks so much better and is much easier to access. Interestingly enough there has been a study done on how the iPad can increase concentration – http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/07/ipad-interface-studies/
Other forms of media that might change are the way we consume TV. For instance IP TV or TV on demand is becoming very popular because you can pick exactly what you want to watch without needing to waste time waiting for it to come on or spend time channel surfing. My wife and I purposefully don’t own a TV at home because we feel it really wastes valuable time we could be doing more productive things. This has meant that the only way we consume TV anymore is via our Laptops and IP TV. We find this a lot less tempting but we still get our fix of Lost when we just feel like doing nothing.
So I think there might be a shift from the open free platform of the web to a more controlled and edited version to counteract distraction and information overload. What is your opinion is the web dead or will we never move back to this kind of medium?