OK, so still catching up on the blogging front, but I’m getting there.
At the end of 2007, analyst firm Basex predicted the biggest problem of the year for 2008: Information Overload. Well, you won’t find any disagreement here – in a world where people continue to be bombarded with more and more pieces of information via more and more different mediums of communication, information overload continues to be the single largest drag on productivity in the business world.
Michael Sampson provided a contrarian viewpoint, claiming that this isn’t "information overload" but simply more complex communication coordination challenges (yeah, I did that on purpose) and that all this communication back and forth is actually what comprises the core of a lot of people’s primary work responsibility.
While Michael has some valid points, I think they are largely issues of semantics, and he really avoids what I consider the main point. Many business workers today are simply faced with more inbound information than they can deal with given the tools they have at their disposal to deal with this information. Yet, these communications, as Michael states, are vital to their work. That’s what’s behind the $650 Billion drain on productivity that Basex is highlighting, and information overload is a term that defines the problem very succinctly and accurately.
I just posted my email thesis that touches on a number of these points. There’s no question people face information overload and it’s a major problem for them. And addressing that problem is going to require new ways to look at information in a broader context across various silos of data and various mediums of communication. Only when tools (both sender and recipient side) to address the information overload are in place will people really be ready to start thinking about some of the broader knowledge sharing and communication issues Michael mentions.