Databases connected on the net improve access to information and allow quicker dissemination between scholars. News delivers within minutes shared by observers, journalists weighing in within hours. Education reaches out to remote students. Employees stay connecting outside of the office. Access to information comes with a price including how to manage it.
Technology allows all of us create and share our work and art to potentially all interested. Write and publish a book, with or without a publisher (Bowker 2013 stats on self-published books). Artists try to become marketers, shouting upon millions of soap boxes and sharing related materials, trying to build platforms (Michael Hyatt, “Why you Need a Platform to Succeed”) within a giant sea of noise. Consumers wade through the noise by focusing on their niche, a section of the web. Sometimes we’re not even sure what to do with the tech, and play with, building canvases of noise (Pinterest) to pass the time, even if at the expense of the hard work of others.
In 2009, Kristine Catherine Rusch asked, “What’s Louder Than Noise?” Rusch pointed out the decline of the “Great American Novel” a book discussed by many and familiar to nearly all Americans, along with the disappearance of the “household name.” Building a brand means choosing your niche and learning how to stand out from the noise.
On the web, trolling and flaming (Urban Dictionary definitions) flourishes, and we make changes at the cost of openness as noted in “The Bullies of Goodreads” by Nathan Brandsford.
People love to make noise and respond to noise. We are not all that different from the hooting and howls of apes. Chit-chat and quick reactions take precedence over thoughtful discourse. When a person doesn’t know what to say, they often feel the need to say something, anything, and make more noise. We add to the noise, using social media services, sometimes spreading copyright infringement (Wikipedia) or ignoring ethics (Slate.com, “Facebook Unethical Experiment”).
Employees, staying connected inside and outside of the office, become distracted by noise. Some employees tweet or post on their employer’s dime (The Telegraph, “Twitter time-wasters annoy bosses”) to chat or self-promote, and an occasion express their dissatisfaction with their job or paycheck (Fireme tweet tracker), adding their ignorance to the noise. While stuck on a problem, a quick check on social media becomes a growing distraction for students (USA Today, “Students say social media interfere with homework”) robbing time from study.
Matt Gemmell points out that “Letting Go” of frequently checking email and social media results in more creativity and productivity. Before reaching the information age, we must wade through a period of uncertainty while learning to master the information.
Welcome to the noise age.