The Time of Information

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and hope to work up into a presentation or story:

– With the advent of digital information available online, people pointed to how much more information there is than before. At first it was about the volume of information.

– But then others pointed out that it’s not the volume, it’s the access to information that changed. The information was previously available, we just couldn’t get to it.

– But really, you could get it if you had enough time. So my thought is that it’s not the amount of information or increased access to it, but the time it takes to find, use, understand, and experience information that has really changed.

This is an important aspect of Information Foraging Theory described by Peter Pirolli and Stuart Card: “We have argued that in an information-rich world, the real design problem to be solved is not so much how to collect more information, but rather, how to optimize the user’s time.” Foraging for information in the digital world is a trade-off between the perceived value of information and the time it takes to interact with and experience it.

Relevance, then, is also time dependent. Relevance guru Tefko Saracevic hints at this with the notion of Situational Relevance in a paper titled Relevance Reconsidered.

Perhaps the Time of Information needs more attention. Or is this so obvious that it doesn’t even need to be mentioned?

About Jim Kalbach

Head of Customer Success at MURAL

One comment

  1. Andrew

    Is this what Mark Hurst’s new book “Bit Literacy” is in part meant to address? I haven’t read it yet.

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