Information overload on the Web and sifting tools

The knowledge doubling curve is only going to increase

"... knowledge is doubling every ten years."

So said Eric Johnson, president of the US Chamber of Commerce -- in the mid-twentieth century -- as he noted the constancy of change.

That was before the Internet.

With the advent of the World Wide Web and its ability to make information easily available anywhere, knowledge was doubling approximately every 18 months by 2004, according to the American Society of Training and Documentation (ASTD). And IBM predicts that in the next couple of years, information will double every 11 hours [PDF].

This vastly increasing store of knowledge, with its virtually unlimited and unfettered access, has changed the way we use it. We once made a faithful trip to the library or bookstore to obtain books on a particular subject. Now, in areas where change is quick, the wait for such books would be interminable and, when they finally arrived, the information contained in them hopelessly outdated.

Today I get my information from the Internet. Not only from the creators of the products I'm working with, but also from the collective consciousness of all of the other people in the world working with the same products, and willing to share that information for the benefit of all.

Which has essentially turned the knowledge paradigm on its head. No longer do I have the problem of finding a piece of information. I am now faced with the difficulty of sifting out the single bit of knowledge I require from a veritable ocean of possibilities.

The de facto tool to do this is Google, which does an admirable job, especially when given multiple search strings. Google is often augmented by others tools such as blog search engine Technorati. But even Google was challenged when I tried to find information about Eric Johnson, quoted above. Though there was plenty of information about Eric Johnson, apparently one of the most respected guitarists on the planet.

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