Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Data data everywhere and not a drop to drink [You have got to be kidding me]

originally published on the Beacon Blog

As some of you in St. Louis likely encountered, last weekend construction wreaked havoc on Interstate 55/70 between Missouri and Illinois. Though I did my best to listen closely on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning as KMOX gave us repeated fair warning, all I retained was a 90 percent certainty that it was going to be a mess, and it was going to start at 8 p.m. on Friday.

I met friends after work on Friday and it was 9 p.m. before we parted ways to head home. One of my friends was also from the Illinois side and, despite the fact that we are both heavy consumers of media, neither of us was 100 percent certain that the construction had started.

Our shared 90 percent certainty was enough to send us off in the direction of the McKinley Bridge, but that 10 percent had me determined to confirm that the more direct and familiar path of 55/70 was indeed unavailable.

So I pulled out my smartphone and started to search.

First stoplight: Radio websites. Nothing.

Next stoplight: TV websites. Nothing.

Next stoplight: Newspaper websites: Nothing.

And so on -- MODOT, IDOT -- I even tried searching Twitter -- NOTHING.

With all of the information available on all the different platforms, I couldn't get what I needed when I needed it how I needed it. So, where's the real failing here? Is it mine? For being so spoiled and demanding as to expect to get what I needed literally at my fingertips? Is it the information providers for not anticipating my need and my access point (smartphone, in the car, on the move)?

The general idea is that the internet has brought on information overload, but I'm of the opinion that what we're being offered is a good deal of noise. As we move into the next phase of the Beacon, it's one of the challenges I most look forward to: stepping back to see where we can really be of service, to whom and on what platform.

But I'm pretty sure it won't be real-time traffic information delivered on my mobile device. So, folks, who do that: How about a link on your mobile site to at least the MODOT and IDOT published announcements? It can replace the ad you put front and center on your site.

Because, really.

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