Social Aggregation and ‘Information Blindness’ – #accessibility

Social Networks

'Social Snow' / 'Information Blindness'?

Seems to me like the new work in information management is social aggregation. It also seems like that thorny problem of information overload is now being applied to social networks as the number of presences an individual has increase to un-manageability. Aggregation seems to be the answer to some – with Sony Ericsson’s Timescape and Mediascape, Spindex, and applications like the Moblin/ Maemo / MeeGo aggregator seeming to provide a solution – but as we already know cognitive overload is a critical problem when navigating large information resources, aggregated or not.

Overload is further increased if the ‘narrative’ is non-linear and may switch context unexpectedly, and this is just what aggregators do. Preview through summaries is key to improving the cognition of users in large heterogeneous resources but complex, comprehensive summaries can often overload the reader with extraneous information.

People, reading1 at speed by scanning for just appropriate information tend to fixate less often and for a shorter time, however, they can only remember the ‘gist’ of the information they have read; and are not able to give a comprehensive discourse on the information encountered. This means that comprehensive summaries for users quickly scanning aggregated content can increase the amount of information that is not actually used in the decision making process of the reader. This information only adds to a users information overload – or perception of their overload.

Once again we see that ‘mainstream’ technology will fast be needing our accessibility ‘edge cases’. Orchestration of multiple dynamic content by aggregators means that most users will start to become ‘information blind’ with the same problem visually disabled users have – too much information delivered in slow serial streams.


  1. People read text by using jerky eye movements (called Saccades) which then stop and fixate on a keyword for around 250 milliseconds. These fixations vary and last longer for more complex text, and are focussed on forward fixations with regressive (backward) fixations only occurring 10-15 percent of the time when reading becomes more difficult.

One thought on “Social Aggregation and ‘Information Blindness’ – #accessibility

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