Information Pollution

Reading time: 1 min

Information Pollution (Alertbox): Excessive word count and worthless details are making it harder for people to extract useful information. The more you say, the more people tune out your message.

Written by some bloke called Jakob Nielsen, this article makes some very valid points, although they aren’t exactly original. Let’s hop in the DeLorean, fire up the flux capacitator and head back to 1919 and a meeting with William Strunk.

“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subject only in outline, but that every word tell.”

Hmmm, not something that sits well with most bloggers though (except the king of one-line posting), and given as journalism and blogging continue to collide and grate against each other, from certain viewpoints, I don’t see this improving.

The editorial style of writing, the bastion of newspaper hacks, is evolving to a more conversational style (and some would say less educated) as more and more information is posted online first, but why? The delivery medium is obviously a consideration when creating any form of content, but is there a conscious move to a more informal style when writing for the web?

I’m not going to comment on the Bill Thompson article (although there is an obvious theme here) instead I’ll point you over to the piece Tom wrote about it, as is usual, he has put things far more eloquently than I could.