Right-sizing Information to Fit Your Brain

info_overloadI have been reading a number of articles dealing with the age old problem of information overload. Seth Godin blogged about Getting meta and asked if information about information is now more important than the actual content we’re seeking. It is in a tag and search society!

 Tom Davenport purported in the Harvard Business Review that we are “info-satisficing” – being satisfied with sacrificing quality. I have examined this “good enough” quandary in my own blog.

Are we sacrificing quality because there is just too much information in too many channels to possibly read let alone absorb? I still receive six print magazine subscriptions (I just can’t move to nationalgeographic.com; I like the glossy photos) on top of my very active Google Reader account, Twitter stream, Facebook and YouTube channels I follow. I can’t seem to get on any other social medium right now or my head will explode.

Because of weather conditions, I settled for Skyping family instead of traveling to see them over the holiday. Instead of scheduling my time around when Modern Family comes on, I go to Hulu and watch it at my leisure. I can’t even find time to DVR the show!

I don’t know if we are sacrificing quality or just fitting the medium and level of content to the time we have.  Would I have preferred to see family in person for the holiday than on my LCD? Yes. But, Mother Nature had a different plan.  I can control what I receive, what I subscribe to and what I read. I used to feel under pressure to keep up on every medium but I don’t anymore.

Information is widely available but we have the power to filter and do so in the easiest way ever…thanks to technology advances. So, are we getting what we need? Are we sacrificing quality? Are we “overloaded”?

The answer is probably “yes” but I find that I am more selective than I used to be when I entered the socialsphere. I don’t accept every friend invite on Facebook. I don’t follow 5,000 people on Twitter. I don’t have RSS feeds from 500 blogs.

I pick and choose what I want carefully and I keep my six magazine subscriptions to ensure I have in-depth articles to not only spark an immediate thought in my brain but to have real, developed arguments and facts to consider. I still buy crime novels in paper because while Kindle is available, I’m not there yet. But, that’s just me.

Can KM and AR work together?

I love to read – Harvard Business Review and Fast Company being my favorite business reads; FBI crime thrillers my favorite leisure read. Sandra Brown and Catherine Coulter really know how to write engaging dialogue! I used to just skim Fast Company for big ideas but I have been reading most of the articles now because while they may not be completely related to my profession as a communicator, I find that in every technology, innovation and green article, there is something I can take away about what the future may hold. And, I challenge myself to draw connections and be forward-thinking.

In November’s issue, an article on Augmented Reality (AR) caught my eye, and I put my futurist hat on to think about the link between Knowledge Management and AR. AR is the technology concept where you can be visiting Paris, walking by the Eiffel Tower and your device will know where you are based on GPS and display historical information about the Eiffel Tower. I would be nervous if I was a tour guide.

What an astounding concept for knowledge management! Imagine if we could retrieve information about people that way…the new augmented expertise locator! Or, embed information about a system, process or experience this way. It wouldn’t depend on GPS because these are not tangible items like the Eiffel Tower but if they could depend on simple inputs like voice instead of GPS.

I could say: “Close deal with UPS.” And, videos of people telling stories could be downloaded to my mobile device telling me how to do that, a screen listing hot buttons about UPS, bios of decision-makers, and the list goes on and on.

What we can’t avoid is even with the convenience of AR, there still has to be someone who creates content. The ease in which we access that information can be aided by mobile devices, cloud computing and other technology but content will continue to be king.

Is Twitter for Sharing or for Prospecting?

Twitter-BirdsI was out watching the UFC fight with my significant other a few Saturdays ago when the loser of the title fight stated he was going to continue his rant on Twitter. That struck me so funny that I tweeted about it. Right then and there at 11 pm central time on a Saturday: “Even UFC is getting in the game when the loser continues trash-talking on Twitter.”

Just by me typing the word “UFC” on my tweet, oodles of people DMed (Direct Messaged) me about free MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) training classes, tickets to future UFC fights and upcoming pay-per-view events. I know the power of social media and use it myself for my own personal, and sometimes professional, purposes. But, I wonder if it’s too powerful?

Started as a way to connect to friends, this has become a marketer’s dream realized, which I believe was the master plan all along. Programs running constantly to monitor the Twittersphere…”UFC” = potential prospect. Is this too intrusive? I was sharing a funny quip about social media on a social media tool and now I am the target of everyone and anyone in this space. Is that fair?

I am a huge fan of the grand social experiment we are conducting and am an active participant but I feel we need to set boundaries for ourselves when using these tools. The line between sharing and becoming a marketing target is getting fuzzier. Sometimes you want to be DMed if you need help or have a legitimate question but sometimes you don’t. In my UFC example, I was sharing but didn’t want to be marketed to. I’m not a huge fan of UFC; I was just out enjoying the evening with my significant other.

I think social media needs to be crossed with intelligent agents to help decipher when someone wants to be contacted and when they don’t. I know this technology is already here and just needs to mature as a concept. I think that will be the ultimate power for individuals using the technology. Are we going to have a “DO NOT TWEET” option just like “DO NOT CALL”? Maybe.

In the meantime, I guess I need to either filter myself or be prepared for marketing message blitzes. How does Ashton do it? 🙂