Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pass me the Internet filter

Like the 3D glasses distributed at the movies to watch Avatar, I wish I had a better way to take in the flood of information pouring over the Web each day.

The following remarks about the Internet firehose state this case well.

Here's a question for you. In a world where Google, Wikipedia and Twitter can tell you almost anything almost instantly, are we smarter than we've ever been?

Say you're with a group of people and someone asks, what is daylight savings time? Someone whips out their iPhone and Googles the answer. A guy asks, Mogadishu is the capital of what country? Same thing, instant answers. Never has so much information been so easily available.

But are we smarter? Not yet. There's a gap between information and knowledge, and we're just starting to cross it. Think of the difference between a library and a librarian, school and a scholar.

One is a place with information; the other a person with knowledge. In the industry in which I work, the Internet, we're constantly asking, what's next, what will Web 3.0 bring?

For some Internet companies, that answer is knowledge. The industry is attempting to cross the gap between the library and the librarian. New search engines such as Hunch and Wolframalpha are less about matching keywords and more about knowledge discovery. You type in, "how do I find a marketing job in San Francisco?" Or, "should I move to Seattle?"

And these next-generation sites actually give you a meaningful set of answers. Today, though, we're still drowning in data. The Internet really is mostly noise. Which is why the consumer yearns for comprehension. The Internet businesses that innovate in that direction will be the next successes. By the way, Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia. In Los Angeles, I'm Harry Lin.

From "Commentary-Information Age Intelligence", Nightly Business Report,
Tuesday, November 24, 2009