Freedom from too much information

The abundance of free content gave me another idea for a possible scarcity to spawn a freemium business model. What if the abundance of free content gets old? What if we begin to experience the negative side of all that abundance? What if we begin to throw up red flags when we're feeling overwhelmed by the abundance like:
  • I didn't ask for this information!
  • This is too much information!
  • I'm not ready for all this content!
  • This comes at a bad time for me!

To throw up red flags like this is a healthy sign. We are exhibiting a sense of an independent self with healthy boundaries from recurring abuse. We've disentangled ourselves from entrapments that fail to honor, respect and value us. We are standing up for what represents who we intend to be and how we want to relate to the world. We are acting on choices found within rather than reacting with fear, guilt or obligatory limitations to what gets imposed on us.

Within this possibility, freedom from "too much information" is a new scarcity created by the abundance of content. The abundance is easy to come by, the freedom from it is not. It's no problem to drink from the fire hose. It's a big problem to shut it off or distance ourselves from getting blasted.

Within this possibility, the abundance of content is free. It then will be worth some added expense to:
  • get information only when we request it
  • get the right amount of information for our immediate purposes
  • get the content when we're ready for it
  • get to postpone receiving or inventory content for later use when the timing is right

This business model would then function as a disruptive innovation for enterprises that:
deliver content on it's own broadcasting schedule in formats that cannot be time-shifted
publish content in bound volumes that cannot be searched, tagged or bookmarked
aggregate large quantities of digital resources that do not support searches for personal uses
push too much content onto audiences that wanted "just a little for now"

The goal posts would then be moved. The game would be changed to providing answers to questions, responses to requests and possibilities to generate further questions. Free content would remain free, but freedom from it's timing, excesses and lack of selection options would be costly.


  1. Tēnā keo e Tom!

    It's a myth, this idea that we are moving into (or have recently moved into) an era when there is too much (free) information.

    If two people attend a free banquet and are the only people there, it makes no difference how many people the banquet is catering for, whether it's for 100, 1000 or 10,000. There will always be too much food for these two people to eat at any one sitting.

    So it is with information.

    Ever since the days when Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Libraries, people complained about an over abundance of (free) information. The Carnegie libraries provided books for free public reading - a condition of Carnegie's donation.

    So what's the big deal?

    In the days before the Internet, I used to attend The Library regularly. Was there ever a time when there was too much information for me to gather from a visit to The Library? Not the way I used it!

    It's no different today, when I use the Internet.

    It's not how much information is out there that is the problem for some people. It is how they access it and use it that's the real issue.

    Ka kite anō

  2. Kia ora e hoa Ken
    You are very right about each consumer being in control of his/her consumption so long as content is sitting still, like books on a shelf or food in a buffet. Your choice of examples is very telling of the context in which your approach works superbly. Other content that sits still includes audio on tape/CDs, video on tape/DVD/BlueRay and text in PDF/web graphics formats.

    I have a different context in mind when it might appeal to us to get freedom from too much information. That context includes subscriptions to feeds, embedded links to follow and personal communications received via email/text messages/comment boxes/tweets, etc.

    A scenario in a library might help here. Imagine finding a book on a shelf that seems very appealing. Before getting it entirely read, go online at the library and Google the book and the author. You may find many blog posts adding other dimensions to the author's message that invite you subscribe to each of those blogger's feeds that then appear in your feed reader every day. You may find the Google search results have such recent links it makes sense to subscribe to an alert that emails new search results every day loaded with more links to follow. You may discover the author has a web site and a blog that can be subscribed to as well which delivers more content often. She or he may also use a twitter account to follow with a stream of added content. In perusing the author's with the same interest that made the book initially appealing, you may find links to follow to even more blogs, web sites and wiki that allow for subscribing. You may then blog about the book yourself and then receive questions, requests, etc that launch off your perspective on the book. All this daily delivery of more content equates in my mind with sitting in the library while hundreds of books leap off the shelf and pile up at the table where I'm sitting.

    Thus in my mind, we're both right. It depends on whether or not the content is sitting still.

    Cheers :-)

  3. Kia ora e Tom.

    Content never sits still, even in a library. I think we tend to forget that (library) books have references to other texts and organisations too. And as much as the Internet provides a facile shifting and shuffling of information, the principle applies the same way as in the library that brings in new books and takes others off the shelf quicker that I can assimilate ALL of the information that some may think is relevant to my enquiry.

    You will recall Let Me Count The Ways. It is a myth that some information on the Net, once published, is any more likely to receive an update than a (library) book is likely to be revised or have its sequel published.

    My point is that whatever the delivery system, any that provides more information than one person can assimilate all at once is going to provide the potential for this situation to arise.

    It's the in-your-faceness of the Internet that freaks out some readers. They simply have to learn (new) ways of sifting.

    Catchya later