Big Opportunity (Sorting Data)

“The average person today receives more information on a daily basis, than the average person received in a lifetime in 1900. The average person gets 1 interruption every 8 minutes.” (source)

One of the consequences of technology becoming cheaper, easier to use and more widely adopted is information overload. Trying to keep up with a slack channel, Facebook newsfeed, Twitter stream, Telegram group, and email inbox is overwhelming and painful. Add in eating three meals a day, working out, holding a day job, spending time with family and reading a book …there are not enough hours in the day. The New York Times wrote a piece titled: Serendipity, Lost in the Digital Deluge which discusses Facebook and twitter “spewing a stream of suggestions about what to read, hear, see and do.”

The good news: designers and engineers are starting to attack this problem.

Recently, I have seen applications like Freedom, In Moment, and Space. Gmail has been introducing features to try and sort by importance — such as “Priority Inbox,” which uses machine-learning to surface your most important messages at the top of your inbox.

But I think we have a long way to go. Email is just the first “stream” to fix. And a problem that any filter runs into is pushing people into an innocently curated bubble of only seeing a fraction of what’s worth seeing. No one’s cracked that code yet, but many are trying. We need something like a Spotify recommendation list in every aspect of our lives: Curation of not just what we like but what we probably like but haven’t seen yet, without being obtrusive.

My hunch is the people who figure out ways to reduce noise and effectively sort data will succeed in a big way.