I was chatting with Larry Stowell of PACE Turf the other day about the state of the industry in general, our businesses in particular and the challenges of making sense of the rapid technological change today.
In his unique role as "maestro" of his and Wendy Gelernter's turf research clearinghouse (for lack of a better term, as PACE Turf — like TurfNet — defies definition in a concise sentence or less), Larry has long been a voice of reason in our sometimes heated or volatile Forum discussions.
So in our conversation (via email) the other day, Larry referred to the "signal-to-noise ratio" of some avenues of social media as "intolerable".
As a hobbyist audiophile from way back, I was familiar with the term as it applies to the level of a desired signal (music) to the level of background noise. But I had not heard it used so aptly to describe the ratio of noise (in the form of off-topic nonsense and irrelevant "twasturbation" so common in certain social media channels) to the actual "signal" of useful information to be found among the detritus.
Brilliant! And so true.
Filters help to maximize signal and minimize noise, in whatever form they take. Search engines are directable, active filters to help us find what we need, quickly and efficiently, by utilizing algorithms to cull out unwanted data or least appropriate solutions. Noise-cancelling headphones are also active filters, utilizing destructive interference to cancel out ambient noise. PACE Turf is an active filter, with Larry and Wendy assimilating, distilling and making sense of the volumes of turf research available today.
Other filters are passive, removing impurities or undesirable qualities from whatever passes through them. Sunscreens and coffee filters come to mind. As I said in my last post, our TurfNet membership fee is a passive filter, helping to screen out the nonsense of public discourse while allowing intelligent conversation and solutions to problems to pass through.
Over the years I've seen would-be challengers or competitors to what we do come and go, most hanging their hats on "free" as their competitive advantage. Let's face it: in some instances "free" is OK, but in many others it's simply inadequate.
There are many free apps and programs available on the web, but many are simply teasers or defeatured apps with full-featured upgrades available for a fee.
Regarding social interaction, the problem with free is that the noise level increases accordingly, requiring the individual to then invest time and energy to actively filter out the nonsense. What value do we place on our time (and energy)?
As the amount of noise becomes overwhelming (or "intolerable", as Larry said), so increases the value of filters that ensure that actual quality conversation doesn't become too difficult to find... or ultimately gets lost.