#09 Information Overload vs Filter Failure

We have made it to our first catch-up week, which is a good time to check in and see how you are doing. What do you think so far? What has been the best part so far? And the worst? Suggestions are always welcome.

Use this week to revisit any of the previous activities – it is never too late. Go back and check out the comments on the posts. There have been some great discussions there. If you don’t want to miss any future comments subscribe to the RSS feed for the comments at the bottom of this page.

And finally something that we can all relate to-information overload. Technologist Clay Shirky argues that information overload isn’t the problem that it is made out to be: it’s really a failure of information filters. Shirky said that the internet has made it easier and cheaper for publishers to broadcast information—so now the onus is on the consumer to filter out the noise.

Discussion:

  1. Do you think “information overload” is just another excuse for why folks aren’t getting things done?
  2. What kind of filters do you have in place to keep yourself from getting snowed under?
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9 thoughts on “#09 Information Overload vs Filter Failure

  1. Engaging speaker but … hmmm… the dance still remains, if you set your “receive” filters so tight you run the risk of missing something worthwhile. More importantly, then why did you accept their friend invitation, add to your RSS feed, etc? What I do likely wouldn’t work for many/most–especially those who like their digital “in” box clear… I just leave it all there and if I get to it, great! If not, no harm no foul. Sure, I have my spam settings on “medium” and check the filters, add others received just like everyone else does.

    Biggest thing I do is give myself permission to unplug a few times a week. It is okay with me to miss something I chose to receive. It is okay with me to get fewer Twitter followers this week because I didn’t post very many tweets. It is okay with me to do exactly what this week at “camp’ is. Play catch up at a point in the future.

    So I guess what I’m really saying is, it is all just information. It isn’t overload unless you choose that.

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    • I tend to agree Dawn. I think one important thing for me is being able to avoid the stuff that is obviously “noise”. To me the most important point is that you can choose who to follow and most importantly have content come TO you instead of trying to go out to various places to check for things separately. I think I lean towards getting less and figure that it is really important it will be in multiple places and I am probably not going to miss anything “big”.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective! When will you be in Ohio again? 😎

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  2. Information overload happens when you choose not to manage the information that you pay attention to; therefore, it’s a choice. It takes time to define your priorities so that you can filter information accordingly. And, it takes discipline to stay focused on those priorities and not to meander off just for the sake of. I prefer to have headline information delivered to me based on filters. I don’t necessarily scroll through these each days. Sometimes they build but they’re not going anywhere. When I have a block of time where I can focus on them, I go down through everything that has built up and see whether any are of interest. If so, I click on them. If not, I delete and move on.

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  3. I agree that we have to develop better filters for ourselves. We’ve always had lots of information available to us (think about the old 32-book sets of 5-lb encyclopedias) but we didn’t look for information then by reading through them page by page. The internet makes it easy to search for a topic and get both related and unrelated results simply because a key word in our search appeared there. So we have to be able to peruse the web page and categorize by valuable/relevant, valuable/not-relevant, or not valuable.

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    • Rereading my post, I’m not very clear about what you’re reviewing. But whether you have filters pushing information to you from trusted sources, or searching for it yourself, you still have to have a process for “weeding”. The blogs and websites I follow, still contain a lot of information that is interesting but not relevant to my needs. They can’t know that. I, too, don’t worry about what I might miss because the really important stuff will keep appearing in multiple places.

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  4. Interesting, especially as privacy is such a huge deal these days. Whether managing email, tweets or posts, there must be at least some method of filtering employed. But when it comes down to brass tacks, it’s a matter of personal responsibility. If I take up blogging, what am I going to give up? If I start tweeting, what is it taking the place of? Will it actually serve to replace more inefficient methods of getting information? Will it encroach on the time I spend with my family? Probably a little of both.

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  5. I found Shirky’s talk interesting, but I agree with Dawn. First, my computer’s filters still leave a lot to be desired. For example I use Scoop.It for curation purposes, and use key words or phrases to find what I’m looking for. Unfortunately I still have to sift through several items that end up being advertisements, etc, so relying on a computer filter doesn’t save me anytime . I am sure that I am missing some wonderful articles and tools, but as a working adult, it’s not realistic to think that i can catch it all. As my mother use to tell me, I can’t feed all the stray animals in the world and I can’t read every elearning article published on the Internet.

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    • I think the trick is finding the right balance between quality and quantity. I think the 80/20 rule is good…you’ll get 80% of the good stuff from just 20% of the people. Also, if it is something good…it will find you b/c multiple people will be sharing and talking about it. So I never worry about “missing” anything. 😎

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  6. With email, I take advantage of the Rules. Everything I receive is automatically put into folders. Mail from colleagues has top priority and is reviewed several times a day. On the other end of the spectrum, mail from news sources waits until I have time to look at it. And some things are directed immediately to the Trash folder. I tend to manage my mail a lot like tmcrosby and I very much agree with her comments about prioritization.

    I also like the comments about responsibility. To me, complaints about information overload are essentially a cop out. In the end, we all have control over how much information we get…and how much of it we actually peruse.

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