3 changes in information experience micro-culture

Information experience micro-culture is my somewhat academic attempt to create a term encapsulating the rituals, behaviors, expectations and experiences involving humans and our interactions with information, which includes the concept of story, one way of many (and one of my favorite ways) to organize data.

Why this is important: To make long-term, effective decisions about serving information customers, I need to understand changes beyond the myriad superficial ways of gathering and presenting information. That means tracking down changes in the existential value of information, the individual and group creation of meaning, and the construction of predictions from information.

It’s also important because it’s far easier to adapt proactively if you have concepts that describe the ground rules for a new information world instead of concepts describing superficial, discrete expressions of those ground rules.

Despite the petri-dish intimations, I added the “micro” modifier to communicate the narrowness of my definition. I am referring not to culture in general, but to a culture, or a cultural experience, defined by the experience of humans engaging information. If I were to do the same thing for a sport, it would be, for example, “Basketball game experience micro-culture,” and it would only analyze the experiences involving a basketball game.

The 3 changes in information experience micro-culture:

1. The rate of the transformation and repurposing of ideas has sped up to appear almost constant

With information becoming digital, it is far more easily, affordably and quickly transformed into other forms. This has always occurred, but far more slowly. But it’s not just an acceleration of one’s ability to read one text and create more text in reaction to it. Now we can transform ideas gleaned from one media type (text) into numerous media types (photos, video, audio or a combination). This idea occurred to me after reading about Photo2canvas in Ready Made magazine.

Implications of this:

  • Attempting to imprison an audience in your one information type or one interpretation of information will fade as a means to make money.
  • Information will become more like a river, not a stack of bricks. Information customers will shape their info into whatever format fits their needs at that moment. Using the metaphor, information customers will take that water and pour it into ice cube trays, glasses, dog dishes, plants or whatever makes sense at that moment.

2. Engaging with information is becoming less of an active, ritualistic event and more of a passive behavior, like breathing

This idea is nothing new, but here’s an example for clarity: The days of driving to the movie theater to watch a movie are fading. Or going to the theater to watch a play. Or sitting down with a Sunday newspaper. Or going to the library to perform research. Or going to a specific Web site and mucking around in somebody else’s navigation system. What’s holding up the abandonment of these rituals is the quality of the information experience. For example, regarding the movie example, it’s hard to beat a screen the size of your house with sound like a live orchestra.

Implications of this:

  • Eventually, and depending on how privacy concerns play out, information will find us and quality will no longer be an issue.
  • Physically (and this includes the physical nature of being forced to click through a Web site arranged by someone’s else preferences) exerting oneself to gather information will be inefficient and an inferior way to get the information one wants (unless you’re a gatherer of original information, such as a reporter).

3. The information world is moving toward a real-time representation of life. Yes, I mean a virtual world paralleling the real one.

The example of this is to watch TV news cover a disaster. It’s as close to real-time coverage as you can get. However, a human still remains to interpret, collate and communicate facts about that event, but the collation and communication tasks, I’m guessing, will be taken over by machines.

Implications of this:

  • Value will move away from those who can supply basic data, and shift more to those who can supply the most useful interpretation of information to the correct customer at the correct time.
  • Concepts that assign moral, ethical and decision-making values to interpretations will proliferate.

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