Every so often I answer questions on Quora.com and re-publish my answers here. This question was originally published at http://www.quora.com/Information-Design/What-comes-after-the-Information-Society

In the same way the information age has built up on the age before it, the next age will build upon this one. In fact, I think we’ve already begun the transition to the next phase and I hope I’m right: Application Phase.

By this I don’t mean apps. Actually, apps are a part of this phase. What I mean is, “Ok, now we have all of this information at our disposal. What are we going to do with it?” And you’re finding that people are going to start applying that information to new and different frontiers.

In September 2008, Clay Shirky famously said, “It’s not information overload, it’s filter failure.” (Web 2.0 Expo NY: Clay Shirky (shirky.com) It’s Not Information Overload. It’s Filter Failure.)

In my opinion, people are beginning to intelligently filter information according to what’s personally valuable to them. This sets up a situation where a person altogether knows what they want in life and have the information to pursue it. Now it’s a matter of developing the tools for the masses to APPLY that information and pursue those values.

You see the beginnings of this in a variety of ways:

  1. Kickstarter & Indiegogo These are online services that allow people to take their knowledge and passions to fabricate them into a real thing with the backing of people with similar values and passions.
  2. Arduinos (Arduino – HomePageThese little open source electronics allow for rapid physical prototyping of all types.
  3. Mobile Apps This is perhaps the biggest sign of my theory that we’re moving into a phase of applying our information and values. It’s become easier to develop applications as well as use them virtually anywhere. From learning languages and what’s wrong with your golf swing to apps that let you build other apps.

If I’m right about people taking information and using it toward something that’s individually valuable, we come up against a sociological conundrum: WIll this further divide our society into groups of similar interest? If so, can this view explain why our political system is so polarized? Will we become isolated groups that will pursue our own values and fail to see the value of cooperation? Only time will tell I suppose.


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