When was the last time software billed as a “communication platform” actually made you more productive? If we measure productivity by the number of emails we get in our inbox every day, we’re doing great. If we measure it by the number of tweets we receive, the Facebook posts we read and the meetings we attend, wow, are we productive.
We’re all worried about the costs of information overload and we typically associate these problems with new digital technologies. But actually information overload has very deep roots: signs of information overload were present already in the accumulation of manuscript texts in pre-modern cultures and were further accelerated by the introduction of printing (in the 15th century in the case of Europe).
As data become cheaper and more widely available, more app developers are finding creative ways to take advantage of the information overload. (more…)
GOOGLE “information overload” and you are immediately overloaded with information: more than 7m hits in 0.05 seconds. Some of this information is interesting: for example, that the phrase “information overload” was popularised by Alvin Toffler in 1970. Some of it is mere noise: obscure companies promoting their services and even more obscure bloggers sounding off. The overall impression is at once overwhelming and confusing.
If arguments, traditionally, start with the straightforward to work their way to the striking, then the fact that information overload is the first sentence of Shelley’s essay would seem to suggest a certain incontrovertibility to the notion. Epistemic glut, in Shelley’s mind, seems to be not so much a proposition as a fact.
Here’s an amazing statistic: The average person receives 63,000 words of new information every day. That’s about the length of a novel. The cascade comes in the form of e-mails, tweets, Facebook (FB) updates, and a zillion further ways we consume data these days. “If you had this crazy idea and wanted to read everything you got in 2011,” says Robby Walker, who calculated the words-per-day statistic, “it would take you the first three months of 2012.”
Advisors’ clients are being overwhelmed by the ever faster flow of financial information, which can make them less confident in the financial advice suggested to them, says David Patchen, regional director, ICD Management, Raymond James Financial Services, during day two of Raymond James’ The Power Of Independence Conference in Orlando, Fla.
Throughout the Defense Department and the federal government, the inefficient and undisciplined use of technology by the very people technology was supposed to benefit is degrading the quality of decision-making and hobbling the cognitive dimension of the information environment.
Almost all executives want more and faster information, and almost all companies are racing to provide it. What many of them overlook, though, is that the real aim should be not faster information but faster decision making — and those aren’t the same things.