Information Overload

In today’s world, people just simply drown in information. There is so much to know, and so much to consume. A Persian author by the name of Idries Shah once said in his critically acclaimed book Reflections’“People today are in danger of drowning in information; but, because they have been taught that information is useful, they are more willing to drown than they need be. If they could handle information, they would not have to drown at all.”. This quote refers to the idea of Personal Knowledge Management and how people can use it effectively and efficiently.

Whether it be at work or school, people are either taught or told that they have to achieve certain tasks and in order to ensure a high standard, a significant amount of information must be processed in order to produce the work required. However what people are rarely taught is how  to process this information. More often than not, people end up looking at the words on a page, and not taking in what those words mean, purely because their brains are completely saturated with information – only some of which is useful.

Personal Knowledge Management is one’s personal set of evolving and changing skill sets and abilities. One can apply these skills to their daily life and this allows humans to evolve themselves and prosper across all aspects of their lives. How to manage one’s own personal knowledge is absolutely essential. Often people are exposed to more information than they can handle in one go. One consequence of an overload of information is that it can significantly impact upon one’s ability to make important judgements and decisions. Too much information can foster uncertainty and cloud a person’s ability to think clearly.

One platform that is notorious for overloading people with mass amounts of information is the Internet. The Internet is a vast expanse comprising of billions of websites worth of information. While it is an incredibly useful resource for people to quickly gather information they need, it can also provide people with incorrect, and unfiltered information. This means that people generally have to spend a lot of time reading copious amounts of information before they get to the information they need. This can leave people feeling overloaded and physically tired of trying to process it all.  Mitchell Kapor, an entrepreneur and a pioneer in personal computing, once said

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What he means by this is that the Internet and all the information that it contains can very easily, and very quickly overpower you and leave you feeling flustered. An important step in processing information is ‘Managing Your Learning’. With this, people can reflect upon all the information that they consume and decide how they can improve the way they read and analysed it for the next time. This is how personal knowledge management can be used effectively for personal learning and improvement.

In terms of processing information within an organisation, it is very important for employees to be able to read past the uneccesary information and extract the essential information needed to complete their tasks. It is also important for managers and executives to be able to do this as this can significantly aid an organisation in their goals for strategic and competitive advantage.

 

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