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Cloud Expo: Opinion

Cloud Computing: Twitter Adds to Information Overload

Oh, Snap! Somebody Got Something Wrong on the Internet This Morning!

Oh, snap. Someone got something wrong on the Internet this morning. Specifically, a journalist in Manila got something wrong on Twitter, when he noted that "China has no colonial past with English." There's the matter of Hong Kong, which the British colonized for 150 years, and smaller incursions and settlements by British and American colonists in the Shanghai area for many years.

The author's point is that the Chinese government seems to be aggressively teaching English to its citizens, while the Philippines remains ambiguous about the language. Filipinos are in a dead heat with Singaporeans as the Champion English-speakers in the region; and they're strain is based on American English, not British. The country feels very un-foreign to native English-speakers as a result.

My point is that Twitter is yet another diabolical device designed to make us crazy. It's the latest manifestation of Information Overload. This concept has been with us since Alvin Toffler made it popular with his book, Future Shock, in 1970. In retrospect, Toffler was an optimist.

A Century-Old Triumph
I can get my pretensions up and argue that its roots go back to the early 20th century and the triumph of the Industrial Revolution.

My reasoning goes like this. I was a music major before deciding that technology journalism needed me, and have become quite acquainted with much of the "unlistenable" music that's been written over the past century. Compositions from as early as 1907 still sound "weird" to many ears today.

The Second Viennese School of music (not to be confused with the Austrian School of economics) produced works that were jarring, chaotic, often unpleasant, and difficult to comprehend - reflecting similar aspects in modern industrial society that had replaced Thomas Jefferson's pastoral ideal. Picasso's cubism (which begin in 1909) in this era launched a similar revolution in that field. Literature took a little longer to catch up, but catch up it did.

So we've been an addled species for more than a century now. The good news is that we are very egalitarian in our confusion. The good old pastoral days - as well as the Imperial Court days of classic western music from the likes of Mozart and Beethoven - were the province of the privileged few. The French Revolution happened for a reason, you know.

But today, a very high percentage of the West and increasing percentages of people everywhere have access to Information Overload in all its forms. Smartphone penetration is approaching 38% in the Philippines and in other developing nations.

There are enormous opportunities for people to be wrong on the Internet. Who knows? I might have gotten something wrong in this column, too. If so, I'm sure I'll hear about it.

Twitter: @strukhoff

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global IoT Research, (@IoT2040), with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is also a writer & editor for SYS-CON Media. He writes for IoT Journal & Computerworld Philippines. He is Conference Chair of @ThingsExpo. He has a BA from Knox College, Certificate in Tech Writing from UC-Berkeley, and MBA studies at CSU-East Bay. He serves on the board of the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies, and has served as Director, U.S. Coast Guard Aux Int'l Affairs.