The Perils of the Information Age

Sean Sands | 10 Sep 2007 21:00
Op-Ed - RSS 2.0

But in regard to Wiki Scanner, it's not entirely a problem of too many cooks spoiling the broth; it's a few cooks poisoning the broth. The more sources of information we have, the more we will see bias playing a part, and then the natural response to bias, which is the opposite bias clamoring for equal air time. Suddenly, the Information Age becomes the Spin Age, where the actual information of use to people is either not sensational enough to climb to the top or too complex to be easily grasped.

This is a relevant issue even for a gaming site, where we see readers in constant concern over the bias in marketing and PR. That there are, relatively speaking, experts documenting the industry becomes muted, because it is increasingly difficult to tell who actually knows what the hell they are talking about. Sticking to the facts doubles the amount of work you have to do to produce content and significantly diminishes your ability to produce traffic-attracting headlines. Outlets find themselves in a constant struggle between being accurate and attracting readers with flashy sensationalism.

I wonder if I didn't actually have a better understanding of more reliable information in the 1980s, before the internet, when the industry had to rely on its media for exposure rather than the other way around. But, then again, I increasingly wonder the same thing about all the rest of the media I consume, including the 24-hour news networks, the online news sources and the increasingly popular independent providers. The more information I have access to, the less I trust it.

I wonder in the long run if the Information Age will be immediately followed by the Age of Skepticism. I actually hope it is.

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