Signal vs Noise

Image source: Juraj Uher
Image source: Juraj Uher

I came across this quote a few days ago by Rutherford D. Rogers, a prominent US librarian, who said “We are drowning in information and starved for knowledge.” This quote was a response to the huge amount of books that libraries had to acquire in the 1980’s in order to stay current. I believe this quote also applies to this Internet era which we live in.

The amount of online or digital content churned out every day is voluminous.  These include things like tweets, Facebook messages, likes, comments, images etc. There is a lot of information available online but most of it is noise. People are looking for signal in the noise but the amount of noise makes it difficult to locate it. Signal in this post is a metaphor for knowledge. It is said that the amount of online content produced on a daily basis is fast exceeding content produced over several decades in the past. We are producing online content the way we generate disposable waste which is now filling up our landfills and taking up valuable land space.

We are going to be increasingly dependent on certain people and tools to help us curate the content we are bombarded with on a daily basis. These people and tools will be needed to help us to separate the signal from the noise. They will act as filters for us. I am currently using tools like Pocket, Flipboard and Zite apps to help filter out the crap from the useful. I am also using curators like Maria Popova and Doug Belshaw to keep me posted of interesting things which I wouldn’t locate due to the noise.

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