Habits of Information Consumption

By Deane Barker on December 31, 2011

A Unified Theory for Information Consumption: I enjoyed this article from Rob Malda (of Slashdot fame) about the headaches of information consumption.  He laments the lack of a uber-tool around this task:

Right now, my browser requires 4-6 tabs open at all times into different systems with different UIs, and different requirements.  What is required of the user of an RSS reader, a Mail User, and a couple of social networks, and a few popular news aggregators is complicated and confusing.  And it seems like the tools required to happily consume one is rarely available in another.

I found this post from a subsequent post about the reliability of email, and how different mechanisms lend themselves to two-way communication or not.

Other streams vary in their reliability: SMS sometimes doesn’t deliver.  If you log out of IRC, you might miss 20 minutes of discussion.  After you reboot, you forget to re-launch iChat and nobody can get ahold of you on AIM. These are highly unreliable networks.  In a great many cases, you won’t even get the message.  They might be very rapid delivery mechanisms.  A text message will make my phone vibrate (wooo, thanks!) but my phone might be off.  Or my cel coverage might be spotty.  And I might never get that text.  I just don’t trust it.  And neither do you.

I enjoyed his theorizing about different streams of information and what they require in terms of tools.  I’m quite interested in information consumption habits and how the Internet has changed them.

As humans, we’re becoming “trained” to consume “posts,” feed to us in “channels” in chronological order.  I feel like we’re adapting our thought processes to account for this.  The amount of consistent information we consume in one sitting is going down, and we’re becoming inculcated to expect a stream of smaller bits, fired at us in order.

I’m fascinated how this will change the generation that has grown up knowing nothing else.