Informationnal overload is a myth

It’s also called infobesity and it’s said being the cause of all our sorrows. It stresses those who aren’t able to manage such an amount of information, it causes losses of productivity and its growths makes informationnal quality decrease.

I don’t suscribe to this point of views. Honestly I don’t feel like being overloaded by information. I’d rather say I don’t have enough information and I’d be very happy to get more. And I think we’re all in the same situation but not everybody realizes it.

Our problem isn’t informationnal overload. We’re not being flooded by information, but by datas. It’s not just a change in verbalization, it’s really a conceptual change that may have a lot of effects once you’ve taking it into account

What are we talking about ?

What’s the difference between information and datas. Information is an answer to a question. Data is only a part of this answer that, taken individually, doesn’t mean nothing for me and is useless.our moi.

The first conclusion is that the difference between both is highly subjective. What’s a data for me may be information for you and conversly.

The reasons of data overload

Since we don’t have enough information, we increase the amount of datas, hoping we’ll find…information. As gold seekers in the far west we spend our time sifting in order to find gold.

The success of blogs as a source of information is a flagrant example. There are not so many primary sources but everybody treats et comment things according to his vision. Perharps I won’t see any interest in the primary data, but since one person puts it in a context that match my concerns it will become an information.

The transformation of datas into information is due to enrichment and / or contextualization.

How to enrich and contextualize datas ?

Using you brain….basic but efficient. But inaccurate considering the amount of datas we have to treat, to the amount of answer we need.

One solution remains : having the job done. Two ways : using an information system or human intelligence.

Solution #1 : enrichment by information system

It would be quite logical if you consider the extensive may we use computers to treat datas. But have you ever seen an information system enriching datas ? Aggregating, calculating ? Yes. Enrich ? Now.

Let me explain: my ERP can aggregate datas, make heavy calculations and tell me, for example, that a product x could be produced at the cost of $ y. And so what ? What I need is o knwo whether to launch it on the market or not. The price is not information, information would be the answer to :”would enough people buy this product at this price to make production profitable”.
Since a traditionnal information system can’t take numbers and give an answer beaucause it can’t give sense to datas, we have to include human interventions in the process.

This is the point were we realize what we usually call information systems are only data systems. A real information system would be system that makes individual being a part of the process, not by making industrial and repetitive tasks but by giving sense to datas, mixing them with qualitative informations (such a context, feedbacks, experience) to provide what we call a real information.

Solution 2 : enrichment by individuals

It supposes your information system is “people-compatible” (with 2.0 sides for example), but also that you let people have discussions about their work, share their experience, and self organize to co-construct information starting from datas.
It takes time to build something valuable so think about indicators you’ll use to evaluate people. Time is given locally and value is created globally…so make it possible for people to help their colleagues even if  their in different business units.

And remember you’ll never get information if you don’t let people think, discuss and interact.

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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