Thursday, February 22, 2007

Envisioning the Whole Digital Person

Taking a holistic view of online users ...

"Our lives are becoming increasingly digitized—from the ways we communicate, to our entertainment media, to our e-commerce transactions, to our online research. As storage becomes cheaper and data pipes become faster, we are doing more and more online—and in the process, saving a record of our digital lives, whether we like it or not.

As a human society, we’re quite possibly looking at the largest surge of recorded information that has ever taken place, and at this point, we have only the most rudimentary tools for managing all this information—in part because we cannot predict what standards will be in place in 10, 50, or 100 years.

In the public sector, the information glut has risen to the point of crisis. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal from December 29, 2005, “Oh, Has Uncle Sam Got Mail,” “the White House is expected to turn over more than 100 million emails to the National Archives” when President Bush leaves office. The article goes on to describe the bottleneck at the National Archives, where they cannot easily convert the information they receive to searchable, retrievable formats. The National Archives has retained Lockheed Martin to solve this data storage fiasco, and Lockheed Martin has recommended using HTML as the standard document format—and using digital adaptors to translate that into a new language when it becomes obsolete.”

As difficult as the public sector finds archiving, there is at least a concerted effort to address the problem and a budget for developing a solution. Likewise, businesses have the resources to deal with the similar surge in private sector data. But for individuals, whose lives are slowly becoming collections of bits and bytes, coping with this rapidly growing problem places them in largely unfamiliar territory. As ’80s new wave rockers Duran Duran put it, “It’s too much information for me."    (Continued via UXmatters)    [Usability Resources]

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