Defrag: There is no information overload

Information Overload
Information overload (by DeaPeaJay)

Here I am at the morning of Defrag conference 2008 doing a quick reflection on what happened on and off-stage yesterday.

Conference is organized well. But much more importantly it has a soul. Eric’s enthusiasm and attention to the detail really makes a difference. You feel appreciated as a participant.

A lot of the sessions went into the details of how to move web 2.0 into the enterprise which I didn’t expect. There’s also a lot of high level thinking, but that often falls short of offering conclusions that aren’t obvious anyway.

Stowe Boyd definitely had the most controversial presentation “Is the flow just too much?” giving an

Stowe Boyd
Stowe Boyd, Image by jdlasica via Flickr

answer that There is no information overload. I’d really like for someone to make a version of “Here comes the bubble“, but about information overload. I think idea of continuous partial attention is useful in some types of work, but highly contraproductive in others.

Generally the only things I miss is more of critical thinking. Yesterday Paul Kedorsky had a really good panel about how humans are bad at predicting the future. I’d expect some of the speakers to ask themselves a question: is it possible that we are on the wrong track entirely? What are the dangers of the path we are taking? Taking a step out of the echo chamber might provide some refreshing insight on the many topics discussed.

The panel I am participating in is coming up in the afternoon. Finding serendipitous through context. I love that title, really “easy” to understand. Looking forward to it!

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  • Jo

    Great title for your session.

    It seems to me to be the key concept behind 2.0 – can we find the value in the waterfall of information?

  • andraz

    Yeah, different problems need different solutions. I think we are only at the beginning of information taming technologies. Search and flow being at exactly the opposite sides of the spectrum and a place for many very cool things in between that are waiting to happen.


  • loupaglia

    Andraz: I think you make a good point. There is something that keeps irking me that we collectively may be missing something. Perhaps Stowe is correct and that we just need to get used to letting things pass by because quite frankly, they are going to. Building on that, information has always flowed past us, it is only the digital age that has given us visibility to how much is passing by and trying to “swim” in it is overwhelming.

    The one thing I would love to do is jump out of the echo chamber and the default acceptance of either information overload doesn’t exist or the acceptance of flow. Then we can try to answer the potential question is there anything we can do. That is where Paul was trying to take the discussion yesterday but it is going to take more intimate sessions to really get to the some intriguing elements of the conversation.

  • Zoli Erdos

    “continuous partial attention is useful in some types of work, but highly contraproductive in others.”

    Indeed. Was thinking the same during Stowe’s presentation. He makes a living of being cutting -edge in flow applications, this is his entire professional life, so there’s no “overflow” for him. But I’ve talked to conference attendees from Honeywell, Johnson & Johnson..etc – I bet they have a very different prospective (as in “get the job done”).

    Btw, it’s ironic to read this post while the AMR guy is discussing .. guess what, information overload :-)