One of the primary debates within our group is centered on the value of social media. One side of the debate finds it an unnecessary distraction from design and life, while the other argues for it as a wonderful tool for staying current and connected with other designers, in addition to providing a way to promote your own business. The differences between the two sides made me wonder: do we need a new classification for those of us who spend our free time on the internet, constantly ingesting the heady cocktail of unfiltered information available online?

I propose calling these folks Information Voyeurs, akin to the Scholars of old, pouring over dusty tomes in mouldering libraries in search of new knowledge. I can see companies hiring Information Voyeurs to scour their Twitter feeds and Google Reader accounts for new facts, new memes, and new pieces of modern culture to grab, repackage, and retweet or post. Their function is the same as a Scholar: someone needs to sift through the vast morass of pop culture, history, commerce, and creativity that is the internet in order to find the important and relevant tidbits to pass on to the rest of us. Information Voyeurs play the roles of both librarian and teacher, curating and disseminating the rapidly globalizing human culture.

In the not-too-distant future, the debate about social media may become irrelevant; as more Information Voyeur specialists come into the workforce, individuals raised on Facebook and Foursquare rather than Saturday morning cartoons, the pressure on everyone to participate fully will decrease. Maybe the next frontier of design will be designing information experiences for the rest of us?

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