I’ve been doing a bunch of thinking about online information in recent weeks because my gears have been churning ever since hearing about the Defrag conference and reading the blog posts from Eric Norlin and Brian Oberkirch on topics related to it.
Today I was noodling on whether emerging trends point toward greater information aggregation or disaggregation. And I came to the realization that information really follows cycles of aggregation because of all the technology already available.
Let’s follow the path of an article in a trade publication:
- Individual data points are aggregated by the author to create an article.
- The article initially exists on its own, or disaggregated, from other content.
- A publisher then aggregates the article along with others to create a web site or print publication.
- A search/monitoring service then finds the article and may deliver it to an interested reader as an alert, or a disaggregated piece of information.
- The reader/searcher then may compile the article into an update for colleagues with information from other sources, thus re-aggregating it.
- And the cycle continues as the next consumer of that information acts on it and remixes it.
This tells me that the future of information lies neither with aggregation or disaggregation. Rather, it means that there are multiple points in the cycle in which innovation can occur:
- data mining tools for writers
- search/monitoring for readers
- niche-information aggregation
- services to assist in re-mixing and/or redistributing content
- research tools to help track the information aggregation cycle (I harp on understanding the flow of information, or message travel, because it could tell us so much about patterns of influence)
I’m interested in what others think about this. Does my cycle concept make sense? Or do you see aggregation or disaggregation playing a more significant role in the future?