Today I started the usual task of cleaning out my email in basket. I noticed how many emails were forwarded links, pdfs, e-newsletters or other sources of information. What struck me was the sheer quantity of “information” that automatically found its way to my in-basket. Never mind the RSS feeds that show up on my desk top. The sheer amount of information coming at me is massive. Blogs, Tweets, You-Tube, Facebook, Wikipedia. It’s all there and at my fingertips.
We have a new problem. It used to be finding enough information to make a decision or inform was the big challenge. Our new challenge is to create information filters. To find good information about a limited number of things. We need information filters to help us eliminate the irrelevant and the inaccurate, misleading information that is available to us. We need to learn to avoid analysis paralysis, to avoid the shiny objects (there’s so much cool stuff available on the internet). We also need to learn to engage our critical thinking with regard to this information. How much of it is “common wisdom”, essentially unproven opinions, rather than hard information that can help us make decisions?
I love information. Little known facts, cool ideas. I collect information like some people collect Barbie Dolls. The downside of this love of information is the sheer amount of time the process absorbs, and the distraction it creates from the real work of knowledge creation. I know that I need to create filters. I just haven’t yet figured out how. I need to create my own strategic focus.