Friday, January 21, 2005

Conquering the tyranny of choice

In Variety is not enough, Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine, explains how the growing availability of metadata can help consumers turn the tyranny of choice created by today's overwhelming marketplace to our advantage. Technology allows us to know what decisions others are making, and Anderson argues that we can use that information to inform our own decisions.

IMHO, Anderson's idea has profound implications for journalism. The availability of such metadata for information sources would allow media consumers to tap into a worldwide word-of-mouth network that could help them decide which sources of information are right for them.

Now here's my only concern. Which force is stronger in human nature - laziness or individuality? If it's the former, then this network will result in a small number of influencers dictating the information sources consumed by the majority, and we'll be no better off than we were before. If it's the latter, however, then this new information ecosystem could be the greatest boon to independent thinkers since the invention of the printing press.