Google is failing us: how to manage the information overflow?


We are all struggling with the ever-increasing amount of information that we need to manage. Websites, blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, newspapers, TV, radio to name a view of the overflowing sources that we need to manage and process. Steve Rosenbaum pointed out in his key note address at DevLearn that search engines like Google become less reliable and that we have to find other ways to manage the information overflow.

I decided to test Google myself. I entered the search term ‘Kasper Spiro’ in Google, searching for images of myself. The starting point is perfect, I happen to be the only Kasper Spiro on this planet, so how difficult can it be? In the first 60 results there where 12 images of me, 9 other images were related to me (either images I posted, or images of my wife or my brother). The rest has no relation to me at all. That is far from perfect but it is sort of OK. But the real problem is that the results contained 3 images that are definitely not me, but they have my name attached to it and my even role as CEO of easygenerator. I don’t have any idea who these people are and why they mixed them up with me.

This is just an illustration that shows that search results are not that reliable as we assume. I’m not sure if the source of the problem are the sites that contain this incorrect information or that Google screws up. Either way, I’m quite shocked, I expected it to be hard to find the correct information, but I didn’t expect to find false information like I did.

Steve Rosenbaum’s solution for this problem is curation. Curators (people not software) who filter information for you. A great example is e-Learninglearning that curates blogs on e-Learning. This is great, but it is not enough. Thanks to this filter I will get more reliable and correct information but the information I get this way still isn’t complete. So I follow all kinds of other blogs with Google reader (via RSS feeds), follow people on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This still leaves me with a lot of information to go through. As I wrote before my Ipad and especially Flipboard are really helpful in helping me to manage that problem.

I had dinner with my former colleague Hans de Zwart recently. He pointed out to me that this way you always search for information in your own ‘circle’. He uses Zite, an app that looks a lot like Flipboard, but it doesn’t show you your own feeds (RSS, Facebook et cetera), but you can select sections (search terms). It will get the information for you based on these terms. It works and it presents relevant information but it does mean that I have even more information to cover.

So there are other ways to get information than using search engines and they will give you more relevant and accurate information. But this doesn’t solve my problem of information overflow even though I use curators, apps and everything. I was wondering how other people try to solve this. So if you have tips for me, please let me know.

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