To Believe, or Not to Believe…That is the Question

The Internet allows information to easily and quickly flow from place to place. This means that we are inundated with facts every day.

In the past, information sources were scarce, and tended to police each other. In the 1950’s, if ABC news ran a story that was untrue, NBC news would tell you about how ABC screwed up, so you would watch NBC instead.

This led to an era of complacency in believing what we were told. If it’s on TV, it must be true! They wouldn’t air it otherwise! Information in print had similar watchdogs. Even books were looked over by multiple editors to ensure information was correct before going to print.

Now, speed of information rules. The most correct news story has almost nothing on the first one to hit the broadcast medium. News venues will print almost anything they think might have the slightest air of credibility.

My favorite story regarding this was the recent iPad debacle with Jason Calacanis. The night before the iPad was announced, Jason went on twitter and began posting the most ludicrous information regarding the iPad as an obvious joke. He stated things such as solar power, wireless recharging over the air, a special Farmville app interface, multiple cameras, and facial recognition as included features. It might have been more believable if he’d stated it was delivered to him by a Unicorn.

The Wall Street journal, CNN Money, and Wired all picked up the story, among others.

The more quickly and easily we communicate, the more crap we spew. Some of it is simply things no one cares about. Some of it is malicious. Some of it is just misunderstood. (Sarcasm symbol, where are you? And not the SarcMark, either. The fact that it costs money is like a sarcasm tax. And the Temherte Slaqi always just makes people think I’m a retarded spanish speaker.)

This is why Curation is the way of the future. Curators will sort through the massive data sea, looking for the tasty krill we all want. Curators are all over the place, and the need for curation does not appear to be slowing down.

Next time you read a fact or figure, will you believe it? After all, 86% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

Including that one, of course.

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~ by Benjamin Kenneally on February 23, 2010.

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