Does the Internet Fail at keeping us up to date on world events? Information overload?

Jian Ghomeshi hosting a live taping of his rad...

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I was listening to an excellent CBC Radio program called Q with Jian Ghomeshi while driving in my car. They were debating the argument that Twitter is considered by some to be a news agency, and whether it was a better way at getting unbiased views on world events.

There was quite a difference of opinion as to whether getting tweets amounted to learning more about the world or if real News organizations were just using Twitter to get their stories out to people faster, and we weren’t really getting anyone other than mainstream media reporting anything of value. At the same time it was said that Twitter and Facebook are part of a social revolution and that it allows people to express themselves in ways they have never been able to. This is especially true for oppressive regimes where censorship and control of free speech have kept people fearful to speak up. But is this considered ‘real’ news? Are they two different things?

I struggle with all the streams of information I try to manage, and to find alternative prospectives on the world. It can be quite overwhelming.

I use Twitter as a fast and dirty way of keeping up on breaking news and follow interesting people. For breaking news I rely on the same sources as I’ve always done. CBC, BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN, etc…I try to add local media outlets but most of them are not on Twitter, or their reporters aren’t tweeting at a rate that makes me feel like I’m getting my news faster than hearing it from friends and relatives. I sort my Twitter stream into lists to try and manage what I am sorting through. Lists like News, Tech, Friends, Aggregators(for Digg & Reddit), and everyone-else.

I signed up for Google+ in hopes that it would be a place where all my friends, family, bloggers I follow, news agencies, and techies, would combine into a social and sharing hub. It hasn’t been that great so far. I post all my blog posts on there, and wait and wait for people I know to start using it. But alas, they are all still in Facebook. Sucks for me, as I just closed my account and really don’t trust the direction Facebook is going with controlling my information and data and who they might be sharing it with(advertisers and secret government agencies. Spooky). Google+ is the anti-social social network. Right now I see loads of content by Photographers and Tech Bloggers. News? Not so much.

I use Google Reader heavily to keep up to date on RSS feeds, and have recently started trying Feedly to make Google Reader a more magazine styled experience. I love Google Reader, but it seems slow to get me up to date stories. For instance, I have subscribed to my Twitter feed and see my tweets hours after I posted them. Why such a delay?

It is all too much…Do I really get any better perspective on the world than my dad who reads the local paper every morning, and watches the evening news? I essentially just get it faster(most of the time). I’m swamped with thousands of articles, headlines, and somewhat useless tweets to get to the same end. Is this quicker, or am I just far more in-efficient?

It might be time to claw back on all the people, blogs and RSS feeds and come up with a better way to streamline my online information.

Like Jian Ghomeshi said in the show today, everyone wants Twitter to become the best way to get our news. Fast, and to the point. But it somehow fails. Can an online service like Twitter, Google+ or Facebook be both a way to catch up on world events and be a way to have a social experience with people online?

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