Are celebrities dying at a higher velocity these days, or am I just discovering information about their deaths more efficiently?
I think the latter. This is information I didn’t know I needed to know, until I found out about it. With online software platforms like social bookmarking and microsharing increasing in popularity, you no longer have to spend lots of time finding information – the information finds you.
Obituaries are interesting, because they are generally sudden, unanticipated news events. You could not possibly be looking to see if your average celebrity has passed away the minute before it happens. Today director John Hughes is being reported as deceased, and I was not thinking about this before this afternoon.
One could think of real-time celebrity obituaries as a metaphor for natural disasters or other sudden events of large impact – so-called Black Swans, in Taleb’s terminology. These are events that impact many people that cannot be anticipated or forecasted with much certainty, if any. The social web makes this information known to you in nearly real-time, however, which is about the best you can expect.