Fast flow vs. slow space – pacing matters


(The Twitter chat scheduled on 12/04/2011, 17.00 UTC, will feature the following questions: 1) What is the value of fast versus slow information & reflection? 2) How do you balance the desire to consume and share and the need to think and create? 3) How do you deal with different information pacing with your relations and clients? Join us on http://www.kmers.org/chatevents).

Yesterday I went back to the KMers website to see what Twitter chats are scheduled or upcoming. To my surprise, on top of the popular chat topics (there is a board where people can rate the topics proposed) was the one I posted a while ago about ‘speed, vs. quality & depth: how to combine fast flow and slow space? Hence this introductory post for the chat.

This post is about the speed at which we work. I am torn here: how do we balance our work and life between the fancy bells of the faster world and the blissful focus of the slow and silent world?

Slow - fast / can we combine the best of two worlds?

Can we combine the best of two worlds?

On the one hand, we have an opportunity, an impulse and a need to communicate quickly, to share knowledge speedily, to pass information instantly. The opportunity comes naturally with the social media and the mobile revolution that is going on – never have we been so completely connected and able to connect with the wider world. The impulse comes as a logical consequence from the opportunity: the medium makes us. We cannot resist to the flow of signals we received, to checking our updates, comments, likes etc. – fuelled by our knowledge ego-logy. Leo Babauta explains this very well in his book Focus – a simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction. The need is what I’ve already blogged about in other posts (1) regarding the importance of not hoarding knowledge, but instead of passing it on quickly to ensure that insights collected quickly inform others – rather than at the end of a process.

On the other hand, we are facing the limitations of going too fast: a) we are developing ever more information, sharing ever more materials on the web and we end up adding to the overall noise – are we really adding value or increasing the risk of distraction? b) deep in the buzzing online swarm it becomes really difficult to concentrate, although that is precisely what allows us to think and to create, i.e. to add value to the info-clutter by focusing on our own ideas, our own imagination and creativity, by adding melodies rather than noise. Thinking and writing takes time – a time that is difficult to carve out in the modern info-glutter’s daily diet c) In the longer run we are also encouraging a type of society that only reacts to short span stimuli. Where is the depth and quality in this superficial appreciation of the world? Are we doomed to tweeting? How can we find time to blog? Can we even write books still? Who will sacrifice time to read them?

So how do you balance (2) the need to consume information and share knowledge quickly with the importance of focusing, thinking and creating in a slow space? What is the value of fast flow vs. that of slow space? How do we adjust to the pace of partners and clients, which may differ from ours? Do we try and convince others about adapting their pacing? In what direction: up or down? A recent article by the Harvard Business Review, are we thinking too much or too little?, ponders some of these questions too.

In the upcoming KMers Twitter chat which I will propose, I would like to focus on particular aspects of this balance:

  • What is the value of fast versus slow information & reflection?
  • What processes would perhaps benefit from going quickly and what processes would benefit from going slowly?
  • How do you balance 1) the desire to consume and share and 2) the need to think and create in the age of distraction?
  • How do you deal with different information pacing with your relations and clients?

Do you think this reflection is worth your time? If so, watch this space, I’ll announce the KMers chat when it’s planned.
Notes:
(1) See Harvesting insights (2): Beautiful KM and Peter and Justin: when and how does information make sense?
(2) This also has to do with personal effectiveness and with personal knowledge management, a topic that was discussed in a previous KMers’ chat.

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One thought on “Fast flow vs. slow space – pacing matters

  1. •What is the value of fast versus slow information & reflection? Each has it’s place. But remember: reflection is an essential element of the learning process. Without reflection we don’t assimilate new knoweledge to existing schemas.

    •What processes would perhaps benefit from going quickly and what processes would benefit from going slowly? Depends on the context. Preparing for a writeshop next month, I skim and scan lots of documents, then go back and read some more carefully.

    •How do you balance 1) the desire to consume and share and 2) the need to think and create in the age of distraction? Self awareness.
    •How do you deal with different information pacing with your relations and clients? With great patience.

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