The Quest for the ultimate filter

In the digital age, all of us are overwhelmed by information. How do we filter them perfectly?

We tend to assume that the higher our living standards, the more idle time we have.

But what everyone is experiencing is that we are getting short of time. IT has liberated us from many tedious tasks, but we tend to fill those time with media consumption. The rise of the internet has driven down the cost of information to almost zero. As such, we end up with overwhelming information and not enough time to consume it.  

It would be ideal to have a technology that has the ability to guess what information we want to consume and filter out the rest. In fact, this has always been the passion of all major internet companies.

In the past, web portals such as Yahoo! were one of the earliest attempts. However, they were mostly done manually by a group of editors. Amazon has been trying to recommend the books you might want to read based on the buying decision of other customers who bought the same book as you did. Google ranks the search results based on hundred of parameters so that the most relevant ones show up on top. Recently, Facebook is trying to filter the news feed to give us the ultimate place to consume online information effectively.

Personally, I find Facebook filtering technology disappointing. They are trying to automate the mechanism too much that the quality of the contents are being ignored as the primary filtering parameters. The fact that I have engagements such as liking or commenting with a status update does not necessary mean that I value their contents any more than status updates that I have no engagements at all other than merely looking at them. Furthermore, things that are most obsessed by my family members are not necessarily more interested to me than those of my friends and colleagues. Facebook is encouraging media to produce contents that will attract the most likes such as celebrity gossips rather than contents such as articles on sciences or history.  

Recently I have decided not to rely on social media to filter information for me. I visit brick-and-mortar bookstores more often to find new books to read. I search out articles on the internet by typing keywords on the search engine by myself and tell google not to do personalization. I have no idea about the social media in the future, but for the time being going back to the old ways happens to give me a better management of information and a better peace of mind.


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