Much Ado About Information Overload

Some topics are worthy of discussion and information overload is certainly deserving of our attention.  The problem of information overload is constantly on our minds not only because managers at companies we talk to are starting to recognize the problem but because it impacts each one of us every day.

Sometimes information overload is too much information.  Sometimes it is not making the point clear at the beginning.  Narrative and story telling is all well and good, but if it is done at the cost of the reader’s understanding of what action he needs to take at the end, then it is simply too much.

A recent e-mail from a correspondent made my eyes glaze over.  The details of the e-mail are not germane, but the goal of this particular missive was to say “use test y.”  But the writer went on and on about test x and only mentioned test y once.

My takeaway from his e-mail – at least the first time – was to use test x.  About fifteen minutes later, I found myself rereading the note, convinced that there had to be more to it.  And, tucked in the many sentences, was “use test y.”

Writing an effective e-mail doesn’t mean filling the screen, it means getting the point across.  E-mail is an ever-increasing part of how we do business and a major contributor to the problem of information overload.

If we take a step back, and try to write more succinctly, we’ll get our point across better and save time to boot.

We’re just starting a major research program on information overload, appropriately enough entitled Information Overload Strategies.  You can learn more about this program by clicking here.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

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