Social Clutter – Too Much Information

Posted on May 2, 2008
Filed Under CSO, Musings, social clutter, Strategy | Comments Off on Social Clutter – Too Much Information

The music of The Police, including the artist Sting, has among the songs some concepts that were perhaps ahead of their time. One example is “Too Much Information(listen), which was written over 25 years ago, and refers to having to deal with information overload:

Too much information running through my brain
Too much information driving me insane

… and this was penned before there was cable TV with 500 channels, mobile phones (with or without text messaging & voicemail), and before there was any of the billions of spam emails (worldwide) per hour! My hunch is that today we have 10 times more information to deal with on a daily basis now, and there is more information arriving with (couldn’t resist) every breath you take.

As the information glut continues, organizations – and people – who succeed and excel will be the ones who recognize the importance of managing information efficiently.

And for those many people who have a portion of their social life online, with many friends, updates, events, and activities, the too-much-information aspect extends into a new term: social clutter.

Socially, many of us now suffer from information overload. For some people, quality time has been replaced by quantity, as we now keep up with more people and have more interruptions in our time with friends and family. Anyone with a mobile phone been asked to silence their ring or set it on vibrate for an event?

It’s kind of like asking people to filter out each of their own social clutter to keep the event from being overwhelmed.

Too much information? Since when?

Our information now is typically electronic data, at one time or another. This is new. Only 20 years ago it was still a very analog world. But now, magazines and newspapers are composed using computers. Digital cameras & photos now exceed film cameras. CD’s that were overtaking vinyl are now being replaced by digital files. And email and online text are essential information sources for most of the people reading these words in this post.

And every year, many of us produce a lot of digital material (emails, videos, photos, slide decks, documents) that we don’t need, yet we have to save it, file it, organize it. We don’t know what we won’t need, so we may try and save it all.

As the volume of online social interactions grow, and with these interactions all saved in the online cloud of data, the social clutter will continue to grow.  What to do?  Use tools, such as filters and folders (online or offline), to be more efficient.  And don’t be afraid to unfriend or unfollow people who are cluttering your life.  More on the social clutter handling in future posts.

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