Overload: The Medium or the Message

David comments on a recent study about how regular users of Facebook feel more overwhelmed due to excessive information in the news feed:

Active Facebook users are more likely to complain of information overload–and to believe it’s gotten worse in the past year, according to a study published in the Association for Information Systems.

In particular, the study looked at whether the Facebook news feed has become more or less overwhelming since the formula for displaying posts changed in September 2011. By default, Facebook now displays a filtered feed of “top posts” to occasional visitors rather than just displaying the most recent posts. However, the feed structure is a little more complicated than that.

As the paper explains, “If a user has been away for a week, it provides a summary of posts; if the user visits Facebook every hour, it provides the most recent stories. These changes have resulted in a constant stream of information on the News Feed, generated through posts shared not only by friends but also through the posts shared by friends of friends.” In addition, the increased volume of posts from other highly active users “may be irrelevant to many of those who receive them. Because of these profuse unstructured posts, many Facebook users are overwhelmed and frustrated with the large amount of information, experiencing the problem of information overload.”

Many people expressed frustration with email overload, a mixture of lots of messages (some relevant / some not), organizational overuse for trivial matters, and spam. Sounds like the same pattern is repeating with Facebook.

How do we increase the relevancy quotient as we shift to new tools, and not just repeat the same ineffective patterns time and time again?

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