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Digital Information – A Maze or Amaze

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is the future of today’s technology and human world. It’s very fascinating to see its capabilities, and its endless virtual tangibility. It will change everything we do, see, experience and feel today – the way we watch a film, make a phone call or how we interact with others. Its enthralling that technology has reached a level where the borders of our physical and virtual world are almost negligible.

However something even more complex and intricate lies behind this idea of these experiences and even our fancy gadgets – Information. Information is that key ingredient that binds everything in the world of digital technology. But is this vast unfiltered information on our fingertips, doing us any good?  Tea Uglow in her TED talk states “the phone is not the addiction, Information is the addiction.” This really got me thinking, information is the sole reason for our gadget addiction. And perhaps, this desire to share information made me write this article and also got you here!

But do we need to be informed every second, every minute, every hour and every day ? Why do we become restless and uneasy when we are cut off from this digital information? Without the digital world on our fingertips it almost feels like we are cut off from this very world. The new term FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) has perhaps emerged from this very threat we feel and is a huge validation of information addiction.

It is 2017 and yes, even addiction has become digital – information addiction is real.

One might say, “it is just curiosity! I am just curious to know more”. But does this curiosity have an ending? Are we perhaps stuck in an endless ‘need to know’? Haven’t we all been a victim of an innocent website search that leads you from one article to another and another and another.  We have, haven’t we?

This phenomenon highlights a crucial aspect of information addiction, decreasing attention span and an unsatiating hunger for information. It seems to have caused an internal conflict within us, we all want information but can barely stick to one source of information for a long time.  What is more astonishing is the way this pursuit of information translates to our Mobile applications. Sensing our digital behaviour, increasing number of applications are adapting their features to suit it.  This is very evident in applications that are exclusively used to read and write articles. They explicitly state the amount of time it takes to read the article as we are more likely to read a shorter article than a longer one. News applications have also adapted to user behavioural patterns by providing news in sixty words only . While these applications are very useful, providing us with quick information, it makes me wonder, when have we gone from reading full page news to glancing at news in sixty words? It is baffling, isn’t it?

But does this mean, we are all information addicts, trying to gather as much as we can in as little time as we can? Maybe not, I hope not.  With the fast evolving virtual world, I can’t help but wonder our role in this web of information, both as a User and as a UX Designer.

How can we be more aware of what we read and write on the digital media. When do we draw the line before we get lost in the vortex of information? Can an application be designed to prompt the user if he/she is stuck in an endless search? Can we design consciously to help the user access information consciously?

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