The paradox of the knowledge age is that we feel ever more lost with information and our capacity to filter it, and yet…
We always want more, more and more of it.
But as much as slow-food and eco-citizen trends are teaching us (again and again), the best can be the enemy of the good and looking at our real situation is just common sense.
I’ve been involved in a few work assignments and projects where I (or other people) were asked to submit a lot of information. In fact, so much so that it seemed absurd how much of that information was going to be absorbed by the receiving end.
Information greed is the ugly relative of information glut, like a monstrous yin and yang that keeps feeding off each other.
But think carefully, if you are asking to get all that information, how much information can you really handle? What are you going to do with that information? I know it’s tempting to gather information ‘just in case’, and generally to learn, but the central question is and remains: learning to do what? Why? Why? Nine whys!
Or perhaps you’re just trying to hoard it and keep sole access to it? In any case you’re indulging in unhealthy and unnecessary ‘info dumping‘.
If you are sure you won’t be doing something concrete about each piece of information you’re asking for, don’t bother asking for that information, whether you’re setting up a survey, organising a call for proposal or giving an assignment to someone. If you insist on receiving all kinds of extra information, you run the risk of a) being drowned in information yourself as you add a lot of ‘noise’ around what you actually really need b) losing your credibility as a person/team/institution that knows what they are doing and c) turning off the people you are asking to get that information and ensuring there won’t be more work with you in the future.
I’ve seen teams prepare baseline survey questionnaires including over 200, sometimes 300 questions, basically requesting many individual farmers (who are hard working on their plot of land) to spend three, four or more hours on a questionnaire that doesn’t gratify them with any instant result. This is utterly absurd, and disrespectful.
Information is precious, so keep it this way and don’t indulge in ‘info dumping’ please…
- Use PACMAN to beat information overload and fix filter failures!
- Peter and Justin: when and how does information make sense?
- ‘Open’ as default, not the exception – oh, and please get over your self importance