“Why are you so passionate about the problem of Information Overload?” is perhaps the question I have heard most in the past decade.
The answer is rather simple: Information Overload is killing us. It is death by a thousand paper cuts in the form of e-mail messages, documents, and interruptions.
Information Overload and related issues are now mainstream topics. The phrase itself is being co-opted for multiple purposes (many unrelated to the actual problem), and it’s the topic of front-page stories in mainstream newspapers, magazines, and blogs.
No one I know is exempt from the problem as information is all around us. The issue is not only the quantity; it’s also the intensity. Information is also appearing in new and unexpected ways.
Just a few days before I sat down to write this preface, the Web site WikiLeaks released 250,000 classified State Department documents including hundreds of diplomatic cables. The question of right or wrong notwithstanding, my first thought was “How will anyone be able to sort through this quantity of material and make any sense of it?”
In 1971, the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers. At the time, the approximately 7,000 pages supplied by Daniel Ellsberg probably seemed insurmountable, but the knowledge worker journalists at the Times managed to present the material in a comprehensible manner.
Today, anyone can go to the Web and see the actual cables released by WikiLeaks as well as tens of thousands of analyses published by various ...