Friday, July 25, 2008

The Solution to Content Overload: A Thought Takes Flight

I'm intrigued at how an idea can grow, morph, and improve over time. For several months I have made the paradoxical claim that the solution to content overload is to create more content.

What I've meant by this is that the act of creating content helps to teach us how this new world of ever-increasing content works. And when we teach others to be content creators, we help them to better understand this new world so that they can be better consumers of content themselves. A good example of this is how the act of choosing a license under which to publish content gives us (and students) a better understanding of how to respect others' licensing choices.

But it turns out that I'm discovering a richer meaning to the paradoxical answer. One that I instinctively knew was there, but hadn't been able to verbalize fully until now.

I see the Web moving from a "publishing" platform to a "conversation" platform. We will drive ourselves crazy if we continue to think of the Web as an ever-growing repository of information to consume. And so within that vision it would be reasonable to ask--as many have done--why the ordinary user should add more content, much of which will be of questionable value when measure by the yardstick of authoritative voices. However, as the Web grows it is becoming less about accumulation and aggregation of content, and more and more a vehicle for participating in engaged learning conversations (both synchronous or asynchronous).

And when we teach content creation we are actually teaching the ability to take part in these conversations. And the ability to take part in these conversations, I believe, will define our learning, our careers, and our sense of personal accomplishment.