I first read this statement on techmeme, which took me to Mathew Ingrams Blog, which revealed that the line came from a college student who was part of an Intelligence Group focus group. The words have stuck with me ever since. Put it right up there with “On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog” . It says everything about what the internet is, what it isn’t and how it has matured to the point that we use it far differently than even 5 years ago.
I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about how we live in an Open Book World. That there is no such thing as information overload, that when we need information, its so easy to find, that we just google it. There is no value for memorizing information , unless of course you are on Jeopardy. Value comes from knowing how best to look. Being an expert in using search and community tools. Call it being the SEOs of our own lives.
But what does “If the news is important, it will find me” really say ?
To this college student, there really is no reason to know anything but what is right in front of you. If you put your virtual self in enough networks, facebook, myspace, twitter, wherever, someone is going to ping you with “the latest”.
We always talk about entertainment on the net and on tv as being different because TV is lean back, and internet is lean forward. It looks like information distribution has become delineated in the same way.
In this day and age, there are the things we are specifically interested in. The groups we “lean forward” and join, whether they are message boards, social networking groups, or websites we bookmark and visit, the tv shows we watch or DVR. Then there is everything else , which we trust will find us. The lean back information.
Its exactly what I do. I have a declining (although slowly) number of RSS feeds that I follow, and a stable number of aggregation sites that I “lean forward” and read. Everything else is extraneous and “lean back”. If its important, someone wlil email me, post on my profile (and I will get an email alert for it), or one of the email newsletters I subscribe to will send me an E Lert and “it will find me”
This is what Facebook was trying to commercialize with its beacon. Its what Spokeo and FriendFeed are trying to consolidate and simplify. Its what twitter is trying to further enable. It will be interesting to see if it works o if people like things the way it is now.
Its the natural evolution and maturity of the internet. We have moved from discovery to activation to optimization to ubiquitous utility that allows the information you need to find you.
Put another way, we have finally reached the digital equivalent of Timothy OLeary’s “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out“