Who controls information quality?

How has the quality of information that reaches us changed with time? People often lament that in the yesteryear, newspapers, magazines and even music, was of higher quality. Are they merely being nostalgic, or are they right?

Earlier, publishing came with big costs. This was because the medium was scarce. Vinyl discs were expensive to produce, and to create and publish music was difficult. Every piece of writing had to be printed on paper. This involved cost and effort. Bookstores had limited shelf-space and every author had to earn her right to deserve a place on it.

This scarcity translated to a mechanism of quality control by the creators of the information themselves. It was difficult to reach members of the audience, and once they were reached, it was precious to keep them and not lose their trust. Therefore, there was huge premium for quality, and newspaper editors, book publishers and record label producers worked hard to sustain it.

Today, publishing is free – the internet has made it so. There is no quality control anymore. Anybody can reach out and interrupt anybody else with information. What this means is that everybody has a voice. But this also means that all the voices that reach you are not curated for quality or accuracy. There are no high stakes to protect any more.

As a consumer of information, what does this mean for you?

It means that the onus for controlling information quality shifts to you. Today, it is important to ask yourself whether the information that reaches you is in line with whatever you seek. Whether it is information that serves your best interests when you pay attention to it. In a world where connections are free, you are responsible for the quality of information you consume. Information curation is a skill that is becoming invaluable. We might not be far away from a day where books on Amazon are free, and we pay for the recommendations.

What this also means, is if the quality of information you consume does not live up to your standards, you bear the responsibility to change that.

Inspiration: Seth Godin’s conversation with Cal Fussman.

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