Information Overload

As I was writing my last blog post about “The Need for Storytelling Skills“, the connection to the problem of Information Overload surfaced.

Wikipedia attributed the term “Information Overload” to Alvin Toffler:

which refers to an excess amount of information being provided, making processing and absorbing tasks very difficult for the individual because sometimes we cannot see the validity behind the information

I remember…in the beginning… of the Internet and World Wide Web.

As a freelance “private computer tutor”,  I used to go to people’s houses and helped them set up their first family PC, introduced them to Word Processing, set up Quicken for their personal finances  and helped them select from the first “edutainment” programs for their children .

Many of my clients, friends and neighbors used AOL as their ISP (Internet Service Provider). What  frustrated me though was how AOL’s shell (browser) was perceived as “THE Internet” by many of them. AOL’s News, Games, Bulletin Board, Lifestyle, Homework Help, etc. sections was where many families were going to search, read and browse the Internet.


Image by verbeeldingskr8

It bothered me, because I felt that the open stream and choices of information that was available from the web, was being filtered, edited and condensed to fit AOL’s choices. What would be placed on the main site, which links would be included, etc. was not under my control. When I mentioned this concern to people, many responded that that was the way they liked it. They did not know where to find the information online and appreciated AOL’s service to make it more manageable for them. They already felt “Information Overload” back in 1995.

I do know, that I don’t want anyone to make decisions for me WHAT kind of information I should or should not be seeing. I want that to be my choice.  Since I have the choice to be able to get most information free and at lightning speed, I also have the “Qual der Wahl“, the “Agony of  Choice”, when it comes to:

  • Where do I get information?
  • When do I just skim over information and when do I need to be more thorough when looking at sources?
  • What kind of media do I need to include to get a more well rounded pool of information?
  • When do I have enough information and when do I stop looking for more information?
  • Which sources do I trust for information?
  • How do I evaluate sources of  and information in itself?
  • How do I deal with the knowledge, that I will never ever be able to look at ALL the information out there? And be ok with that…

Chris Pirillo mentions  his solution to Information Overload at 7:25 min:

That is the future, that is the solution for me. Information overload… turning to my friends. YOU are my solution and I am very grateful that Internet exists to help me get to information. I am grateful that you exist to help me make sense of that information as it relates to me.

[…]

I have so many people that I love following that I can’t take it all in. So I rely on you to tell me what is good.

Wes Fryer , Moving at the Speed of Creativity, wrote an interesting post recently: “How are you dealing with TMI (Too Much Information) ?

Google Reader, Diigo/Delicious, my blog and Twitter account are my best friends when it comes to filtering, accessing, sharing and collaborating with digital information today– but I’m the first to admit things ARE overwhelming and it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the sea of information.

He seems to be in agreement with Chris Pirillo that the human factor that connects us through tools to the information is what helps us deal with information overload.

While searching for information to write this post about “Information Overload” 🙂 , I asked my Twitter Network, searched other blogs on Google Blog Search and my Google Reader. I looked through presentations at SlideShare, video clips on YouTube and images on Flickr.

Too much “stuff is coming up”. I could go on and on looking for more information. I am wondering:

  • What backs up my train of thought?
  • What brings in new perspectives?
  • How does it connect to my blog post?
  • Does the connection make sense?
  • Is it relevant?


Image by Will Lion

Information overload is a fact of life today.

Are you looking to machines and program tools to help you, find,  filter and organize all of it or are you relying more and more on humans to help you cope with all the information that is spraying like water out of a fire hydrant?

How do you deal with it? What tools do you use to minimize it? What about the human factor? What are your thoughts?

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