In this following post, the author spells out information overload like a Vegas buffet. Just because it's there doesn't mean you have to overeat. It is not a bad thing that all the information is there. The new skills needed are about being able to pick through the buffet carefully to get you the nutrition that you need.
I like this post because it also relates to some of the choices that the public are going to be making as they get overloaded with potential campaigns, volunteer work, and engagement opportunities. We are going to need to train people how not to get overloaded, and how they should pick the right menu of items to get the satisfaction that they seek.
In our sector does the satisfaction come from policy work, hands-on work, social engagements, brands, sex appeal, or something else? In 1970, it may have been a lot harder for people who care about society to find the right cause, and to find the right way to plug-in to make a difference. Today, people seeking to do something are standing at the Vegas buffet.
We should not try and offer them everything from each group. We should try and figure out what nutritional value does our organizing present and help them clearly understand how engaging with us satisfies their hunger to do something.
Information Overload and the FOOD IS THOUGHT Metaphor | ribbonfarm.
Clearly, information abundance and attention scarcity are real. Information overload is not. Just because there is too much food at a Vegas buffet doesn’t mean you have to overeat (though many do). You just have an easier time satisfying your calorific needs than through hunting or farming. As in Vegas, there will be a lot of waste — food that’s sampled and not finished, food that’s never touched and thrown away. You might think that information abundance and attention scarcity are just different ways of describing information overload. No. Information abundance is a problem for producers. People like me, in short, who have to discipline ourselves. Cooking one new and exciting dish in limited quantities for the potluck is better than making a second pot of mashed potatoes when somebody is already making a first pot. Attention scarcity also is a problem for producers rather than consumers. I, as a blogger, must try to get your attention. But you, as reader, can choose to tune me out completely and go elsewhere. The biggest insight from the metaphor is this: you don’t even have to sample if you don’t want to, so long as there are a few dishes you like that make up a balanced meal. Indians might like to eat Mexican food, and Mexicans may like to eat Indian food, but each can survive without the other. And actually did for several millenia before the cultures had any contact. Let me translate that back to the information domain. Curing Information Anxiety If you are still not convinced, it is probably because you believe the following: that as the flood of information coming at you increases, your processing workload inevitably increases. After all, you have to, at the very least, glance at a news headline or email subject line for a tenth of a second to decide whether or not you want to process (or eat) it. Surely, even with the most efficient recommendations from StumbleUpon and all sorts of filtration tools, those tenths of seconds still must add up? No. The key to understanding why is to think of information throughput rather than information input. You only need to ensure that enough high-quality information (nutrition) is coming at you so you can add enough value (digestion, information work) to make a living off the throughput-process, and hopefully enjoy it (tasty work). So yes, it has to be balanced and sufficiently varied (protein, carbs, fats — theory, facts and history), to allow you to function and make a living, but you don’t have to experiment and sample unless you want to, or your traditional means of adding information value through your work is under threat. If you are an experienced welder in a great job, and you read nothing, you are probably still safe except from the unlikely event of really advanced robots taking away all high-skill welding jobs.