Better Information Isn’t Always Beneficial?

Slashdot Pointed the way to an interesting, though light on details, Wall Street Journal column by David Wessel. He says while the public has more and better information available now than ever before, he’s not sure if it’s always a good thing. Most of the time, speedier, cheaper information allows the economy to produce more from less, often by eliminating mistakes, cutting wasted effort and shrinking doubt. He points to Walmart, dug companies and “the lovelorn” as an example of people capitalizing on good information. But a couple new proprietary data sets are giving him pause. A program that helps companies choose judges based on how they’ve ruled in the past and the ability of Congress to get reelected are his examples.

He says computers have removed the limitation on the ability of any individual to process information, and have forced society to wrestle with practical issues that seemed only theoretical a generation ago.

I can’t help but think libraries, free, open and accessible libraries have a part to play in the coming years. If we (libraries) make more information available to more people are we leveling the playing field, or just making things worse?