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Twitter: Is this 'river of information' too polluted to be useful?

Scott Klososky, author, entrepreneur and advisory board member for Critical Technologies, delivered a provocative speech at the opening of American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council's Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Va.

Provocative, yes, but also questionable in some of its particulars, and Klososky did not stick around to take questions publicly after filling his allotted hour.

Klososky alluded to the “rivers of information” that flow through Twitter and other social media platforms, saying that people not using Twitter are cutting themselves off from those alleged rich streams of information.

Well, perhaps. But Klososky ignored the quantity of false information that pollutes that river. Whether mistaken, incomplete, slanted or deliberately fabricated, there is a considerable amount of misinformation in the river.

In fact, we think Klososky is wrong to characterize what flows through Twitter as information at all. Instead, it's just data – some accurate, some not, but very little of it useful in its raw form. For data to become information, someone has to sort it out, figure out what’s correct and what’s not, and further, what’s important and useful and what’s trivial or irrelevant to a given information-seeker.

While Klososky rhapsodized on the fast-changing world of information flow, he ignored the value of gatekeepers -- people whose job it is to do just that – and presented the flood of unverified, unsorted data as a good in itself. We disagree.

Posted on Oct 24, 2011 at 12:18 PM


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Reader comments

Tue, Oct 25, 2011

Twitter is the analog of a public bulletin board, with notes tacked all over it. Anybody can post anything they want. The problem with trying to winnow meaningful information from a stream of consciousness, 140 character "data blocks" is one of sorting and authentication. Can you actually trust anything posted on Twitter? For that matter, can you really trust much of the supposedly authoritative information you find anywhere on the internet? Is the "data" from a reputable source, or the ramblings or ravings of a lunatic? Twitter may be a "river of information" but it is indeed a polluted one. In most instances, the time required to extract meaningful information from this river would far exceed the value of that information.

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