Shirky confirms Shenk

Clay Shirky, in a recent talk at Web 2.0 Expo New York, challenged us to stop talking about information overload as an excuse, recognize it as a fact (one that’s existed for a long time and will not diminish in the future), and to work on building better filters.

Watch Clay Shirky on information overload versus filter failure:

Titles like the Boing Boing one are kinda unfortunate because they frame Shirky’s view to be one that would be in opposition to lets say, David Shenk’s from his book “Data Smog”.

Far from it.

David Shenk attempted to identify the information landscape we are living in now way back in 1997. In a 2007 piece in Slate he took a critical look back.

As with any look forward, the book wildly missed the mark with some of its more grim predictions, but in many ways still has much to offer and think about.

In particular, towards the end of the book Shenk proposed a personal call to action for building better filters (learning to be our own for example) and to be better information producing citizens (being our own editors). Big foreshadowing of Shirky’s talk there.

Most reviews of the book focussed on Shenk’s definition of the problem and pooh-poohed his suggestions. So here we are, many years down the line, and most of the focus is *still* grousing about ‘information overload’.

Clay Shirky’s point is its high time to stop doing that and get busy building the tools, protocols, customs and businesses that will help us not only deal with it, but thrive from it.