The knowledge archipelago

We’re living amidst a paradox in our relationship to information.  A recent University of California study finds that the average American consumes information for nearly 12 hours a day, sucking down about 34 gigabytes during that time.  Yet, we are continually surprised by stock market crashes, assets bubbles…and who knows what next?

We suffer from a quantity-relevance gap with regard to information.  Simply put, the voluminous information we have is not always the information we most need.   As a result, “data overload” or “information anxiety” are maladies that many of us experience often.

Part of the problem is the escalating proliferation of information sources.  This started back in the last decades of the 20th century when the number of magazines and TV channels began growing exponentially.  And the subsequent growth of the Internet in general, and of social media in particular, makes that pale by comparison.

You might explain this by saying that a household—being the smallest type of organization—is especially inept when it comes to information usage, and assume that larger organizations would have figured it all out by now.  But in my experience they suffer from the same kinds of problems, often compounded by being up-scaled and highly complex.

Large organization C-level decision makers typically report that they have to make bigger decisions, in shorter time frames—and have less than they would prefer of the information to do so rationally.

Not enough information?  When companies spend on average more than 5% of revenues on information??  How is this possible???

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