On a podcast today, Mitch Joel asked me something I don’t think anyone else has: Are we experiencing information overload? Everyone else assumes that we are. Including me. I found myself answering no, we are not. There is of course a reasonable and valid reason to say that we are. But I think there’s also an important way in which we are not. So, here goes:
There are more things to see in the world than any one human could ever see. Some of those sights are awe-inspiring. Some are life-changing. Some would bring you peace. Some would spark new ideas. But you are never going to see them all. You can’t. There are too many sights to see. So, are you suffering from Sight Overload?
There are more meals than you could ever eat. Some are sooo delicious, but you can’t live long enough to taste them all. Are you suffering from Taste Overload?
Or, you’re taking a dip in the ocean. The water extends to the horizon. Are you suffering from Water Overload? Or are you just having a nice swim?
That’s where I think we are with information overload. Of course there’s more than we could ever encounter or make sense of. Of course. But it’s not Information Overload any more than the atmosphere is Air Overload.
It only seems that way if you think you can master information, or if you think there is some defined set of information you can and must have, or if you find yourself repeating the mantra of delivering the right information to the right people at the right time, as if there were any such thing.
Information overload is so 1990s.
[The next day: See my follow-on post]