Junk Information

Published by Lex on

Information is a bit like sugar. It gives you a quick burst of pleasure and energy, but after the initial high, you are left feeling a bit empty and low.

Yet, you still crave more.

For example, Twitter is a repository of random fragments of information. The benefit is that these bits of information are distributed quickly. However,  the information takes on more meaning depending on the meta information of the post. Who is posting and in what context makes a big difference in how much more information is generated from one small bit of information. Opinions about information is data as are opinions about opinions.

At some point, the layering of data on top of data becomes junk information. As with most things, there are different classes of junk information.  It ranges from things like gossip (celebrity or otherwise) to reports and papers based on dubious data.  The insidious thing about information is that it kind of builds on itself creating ever more information. Information reproduces and mutates. The cycle doesn’t end.

Information is a bit like the big bang. Nothing turns into something and then keeps on expanding. It is infinite. Yet, it can be vast and it can be minutely small. Information expands in both directions at the same time. It gets bigger and smaller. The smaller it gets, the bigger it can get. Every individual and every system processes all of the inputs differently.  This might be a manageable problem, but the veracity of any information always contains some level of doubt. Is anything really ever 100%?

The Mountain or the Mole Hill

The significance of any bit of information is always contestable. Is it a big deal? Or is it just noise? One person’s noise is another person’s signal and navigating that difference is challenging, but when there are more than two people involved it gets next level complicated.

Some people make a big deal out of information. While others try to downplay its significance. However, it is challenging to know in advance exactly how important certain information is.

There are guesses, educated guesses and simulations, but in reality it is all junk information that begets more junk information.

The extraordinarily low cost of publishing information has lowered the value of all information. The friction of publishing made published material valuable.

In the age of frictionless publishing we are to publish and consume as much junk information as we want.