Twitter, Facebook, Google+. Information now comes to us as a faucet. If you don't drink it all it disappears forever. Try to find status updates and tweets from even a few days ago. Many of you wouldn't have seen this blog post if you didn't catch it on Twitter or Google+.
I try to keep my faucet turned relatively low. I still like RSS feeds like Google Reader. Stuff stays until you discard it. I try not to have too many Twitter followers or Facebook friends.
But the trend is for people, especially the younger generations, to subscribe to whatever fills their fancy. They get a continual stream of information and ignore what they don't see. So Google and Facebook develop algorithms based heavily on what the crowds and your friends are looking at, to determine the order of what you see. Twitter will surely have to follow. Google even tries to decide which of my emails are important.
As goes the Internet goes so does academic knowledge. How do we cut through the research clutter? Will we have algorithms and the crowds tell us which research papers to look at? That used to be the job of journal editors, conference program committees and my grad students.