Information overload is great!

Can you keep up in your business or do you experience information overload? “Between the dawn of civilization through 2003 about 5 exabytes of information was created. Now, that much information created every 2 days.”, says Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google until 2011).

No wonder we suffer from information overload, or do we?

The bulk of the data is user generated content because today – thanks to the internet – everyone can be a publisher. On a day in the internet 250 millions photo’s are uploaded to Facebook, 864,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube and 294 billion emails are sent (data by MBAonline).

This creating and sharing of content creates a real explosion of data. A lifetime is not enough to consume the content that is created in one day. On first sight this looks like information overload, but let’s have another look.

It’s not information overload but a lack of filters

Suppose we compare information to food, as is done is the great TED talk by JP Rangaswami. There are so many different ways in which we consume food, similar to consuming information. “Information, if viewed from the point of view of food is never a production issue; you never speak of food overload. It’s a consumption issue, and we have to start thinking about how we create diets and exercise”, he says. How can we label information (like we label the fat percentage of food) and deal with it responsibly?

We in the Western world have more food that we can consume, so we need to restrict and make healthy choices. The same is true for information. Remember Morgan Spurlock’s documentary film “Super Size Me“? During a period of 30 days he only ate McDonald’s food and this appeared to have a drastic effect on this physical and psychological well-being. Now imagine, what would happen if an individual had 30 days non-stop Fox News?

You need to balance your diet of information and make healthy choices in this area as well. The data you consume will shape your thoughts and ideas. The data you consume will consequently direct the decisions you make. So you need ways to identify the right kind of data and information.

Why is this abundance of data a good thing?

We’ve seen it’s not about data consumption, but about information extraction. It’s pointless trying to keep up with everything. You don’t need more time, you just need better tools.

Based on the enormous amounts of content on the web, far more prediction is possible than we’ve seen today. We don’t need a solution for information overload. It won’t go away. We just need to learn how to deal with it. And we can do so much with these data. If only we have the right tools; labeling engines, filters and processing aids.

How do you feel about information overload and filter failure? Do you have experience with reaping the benefits of this enormous amount of daily information? Please share your thoughts with us via the comments.

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