The real-time web.
The harbinger of the future accessing of information that we are supposedly going to need every minute of the day just to stay current with what is going on. Erick Schonfeld wrote today on TechCrunch
The image reminded me of another screenshot (see below, click to enlarge) that I once took of an earlier Twitter client called Twhirl, which Seesmic bought before developing its current product. About a year and a half ago, I complained that Twhirl took over my desktop when I first installed it with a constant stream of pop-up messages. I wrote in that post:
This highlights a bigger problem with the Web today. There is too much to pay attention to and not enough ways to reduce the noise.
It’s 18 months later and the problem hasn’t been solved. The screenshot I took back then still resonates because the noise is worse than ever. Indeed, it is being magnified every day as more people pile onto Twitter and Facebook and new apps yet to crest like Google Wave. The data stream is growing stronger, but so too is the danger of drowning in all that information.
This is the screen capture he was referring to:
While this screenshot may be over 18 months old nothing as changed for the better. If anything the increase of data flowing at us in ever increasing speeds is getting worse. Anyone who wants to keep abreast of things as they are happening is faced with having to deal with a total inundation of news and information without any real way to control.
Oh sure we can create lists for this and lists for that but all that means is that we end up switching between even more screens instead of less. This was the argument put forth when Friendfeed turned on their version of real-time display. If it’s going by to fast just make yourself some lists to help slow it down. So you create one list and when you find that isn’t enough because you are missing stuff you create another one, and then another one etc etc etc.
Where Erick’s screen was from 18 months ago this next one is mine as about 10 minutes ago and I would wager I don’t cover the same amount of information that Erick does (click for full view).
That is my desktop spread across two monitors displaying the majority of programs I can have running at anyone time (minus a couple of IM windows and a browser window or two).
Some folks are claiming that Google’s Wave is going to be a game changer here in the way we deal with information. Well I will be surprised all to hell if it does. If anything all it is doing is adding yet another window of stream nonsense that we will have to find some way to filter so it becomes even bearably useful.
Information is coming at us fast than any human being short of maybe Robert Scoble can handle and nothing that has come along from the womb of Web 2.0 or social media has – or will – make dealing with this glut of garbage and occasional gems of information come even close to be being able to be dealt with without losing our collective minds.
We are being over run by information and rather than trying to clean it up – you know, like how newspapers use to- we are just being given more tools to bring even more noise and garbage our way.