Friday, June 10, 2011

Surviving the Information Age

Is it not wonderful to witness the flurry of events happening in and around us at micro and macro levels? By micro I mean at our personal lives, whereas macro indicates at broder global social, political, economic levels. Just count how many big-bang events happened from the beginning of the year - civil war and unrest in the middle-east countries, India winning the world cup cricket, Indian political leaders going into jail for scams, IMF head Dominique Strauss Kahn's sex scandal, killing of Osama Bin Laden, 75 years of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind, end of 3 decades' communist rule in the state of West Bengal, hunger strikes against corruption by Indian social workers and gurus, sky-high inflation in the emerging markets, death of legendary painter M F Hussain - it's a long list. Events in our individual lives are happening continuously. The most surprising thing is most of us are cognizant of most of these external and internal changes.

This observation reminds me of the article on information overload published in last week's Sunday Statesman. Though the author primarily elaborates on the inefficiency of information filters which are to block unwanted information, one of his observations was very interesting. He says in today's information age, we can not be a complete repository of contemporary events. In other words, it is not possible to be aware of and knowledgable about all the happenings around the world.

Here lies the paradox. Hundred years ago we didn't know what was happening on the other side of the world because we didn't have the technology. Today, we can find out what is happening on the other side of the planet at the click of the mouse button but the information is so huge we could not process all of them meaningfully!

Today we are bombarded with information. The good old newspaper, 24 hour TV news channels and their web counterparts, blogs, social media all continuously spew information. Any filter is bound to fail in this situation. May be our senses have to develop an inherent and intuitive filtration mechanism to carry us through this information age!

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