Information at your fingertips?

The last two weeks had been a rough roller coaster ride, with various project deadlines and my  involvement with the Wharton Tech Club at full swing. One more week till winter break and I can finally see the light.

No matter how busy I am, I try to stay on top of my daily reading. Yet I find myself increasingly getting lost in the sea of digital information. Let’s take a quick look at my daily reading routine:

  • US/World news: Google News
  • Tech headlines: Techcrunch/Twitter
  • Specific topics that I follow: Google Alert
  • Staying in touch with friends, particularly those in another city: Facebook

This doesn’t seem like a long list, but each of those is a whole information universe of its own. Just take Techcrunch as an example: between the 10 funding and exit articles, product rumors, guest posts, tech events etc, there are easily 50 posts a day with no prioritization. And then there’s the problem of “content creep” – i.e. reading updates from one source led me to discover more content from another source. Last but not least there’re those really long or non-mobile optimized content that require me to go back to it at a later time, which adds to my headache.

There are some great startups out there attempting to change the way we consume content. From those that provide mobile-optimized reading experience like Flipboard, to ones like Summly that tries to summarize articles into bite-size content. Yet I feel that the complete solution is still missing: one that truly solves the problem of information overload. As old-fashioned as it sounds, what I really want is a digital assistant. Like a trusted assistant who’s been with you for 20 years; who understands what you consider to be important news (be it public or personal); and who can quickly and precisely summarize them for you. If you feel like going in depth or reading the rest of the reports, he/she would also have those articles ready on your desk.

Until this day comes, I feel like I’ll always be struggling to keep up with the digital world. Internet definitely helped bring information to our fingertips, but you’re only able to take full advantage of it if you have 10 hands.

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