Social media as a filter for information overload

Social media as a filter for information overload

Joseph Waring  |   February 17, 2011
Social media tools have the potential to help people deal with information overload. The ability to filter content based on the "reputation" of people in your community was a key point raised during a panel discussion on social media and the impact on telecom at the Mobile World Congress on Tuesday.
Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwaayen said we're in a new reality, where the individual citizen has an amount of power he has never had before. “They can create their own definition of authority or expertise. That is a fundamental change. You can say in one way the expert is dead because people today decide themselves who the experts are.”
Keith Woolcock, analyst and founder of 5thColumn ideas, noted that one of the more powerful aspects of social networking is that "we live in an age of super abundance -- there is too much choice and now too much information. One of the things about social networking that is not focused on enough is that while we're good at communicating, we're even better at copying."
Author Steven Berlin Johnson said that a lot of things are up for grabs, like search. "If you look at social information filters, for examples, the first thing I did when I got to Barcelona a couple of days ago was go on Twitter and ask where should I eat and drink. I got back 60 replies. It was a fantastic filter. It was a mush better way to explore the information overload problem than going and searching Google."
Verwaayen said that two years you would buy a Michelin guide for "objective" information. Now you take information from people you know nothing about -- "you don't know their budget or their taste - and we find it more creditable than buying a Michelin guide. That's an interesting phenomena.
"Let's be honest, that's what people do. They go to Google but they have no idea of the quality of the information. I think the next stage is to have a filter that tells you not to go unlicensed so to speak."
Mozilla VP Jay Sullivan said reputation will start to develop. "It's not just anonymously Twitting, but getting recommendations from friends that I'm really going to trust, but also looking at the broader world a people with a reputation. You should be able to zone in on those and get something that is much more satisfying and feel like you've made a discovery that through people that are more meaningful to you."

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