Info. overload


Despite the oft sycophantic praise and hyperbole that surrounds the web 2.0 revolution, people are equally quick to bemoan and grumble about aspects of digital life that make their life that little bit worse.

One common complaint I hear is that we are drowning in a sea of digital content, thanks to the perpetual bombardment of news, ads, videos, blogs, emails and tweets that greet us at every turn.

The rather cool visualization above was created by Nick Bilton of The NY Times R&D Lab, who gave a really inspiring presentation at my agency last week. It takes 98 of the most popular websites, from different genres, and represents the number of links on their respective homepages. (Click here for the full visualization).

Nick found a total of 36,128 links on these 98 sites and concluded that a day browsing the blogosphere and your regular news sources could expose you to well over 100,000 links in a single day. Ouch…

Whilst I too similarly suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous information overload, I can’t help but think that our digital lives would be poorer if these links weren’t pushed to us. Isn’t there something serendipitous (I really despise this word- not quite sure why- but I’m not sure there is a replacement that possesses quite the same connotations) about going online to find out the price of a digital camera, and being transported to a recipe for roast rack of lamb or a youtube clip of a hamster doing back flips? No digital path is quite as linear and straightforward as you imagine it will be. You start one place, and end up somewhere completely different, often having no recollection of how you found yourself at that destination, engaged in that activity (somewhat analogous to a night after one too many gin and tonics no?) Am I the only one whose favorite blogs and websites were discovered almost entirely by accident?

Sometimes I wish more of life’s interactions and experiences worked like this. I always find that the best nights out in New York are where I head off intending to do something specific, and through a bizarre collection of coincidences and interceptions (offline links if you will), end up doing something completely unexpected. Rather than lament the information overload, perhaps we should celebrate it…


One response to “Info. overload

  1. Tumblr, what with all the internal reblogging and linking, is another extreme example. and my biggest waste of time of late. Dylan, i love your blog!

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