Blogger: Craig Roth
Hola! I'm just back from our conference in Barcelona. It went very well and I got to meet many interesting customers from a broad spectrum of international companies and agencies. And if that wasn't enough fun, the sangria and architecture walks would have made up for it.
One interaction that sticks in my mind is a question I got during the Q&A after my session on Enterprise Attention Management. I spoke after two Enterprise 2.0 presentations that talked about wikis, blogs, social software, and personal web pages.
The question I got (which I'll paraphrase a bit) was "First you tell me about all these new mechanisms for content creation with Web 2.0, then talk to me about attention overload? Do you guys plan these presentations together?"
It does seem a bit contradictory at first: two presentations on how to publish more content through new channels and then a presentation on how we have to deal with so much new content. It's like selling bad wine on Saturday and aspirin on Sunday - you're creating your own demand!
Well, it's not quite so clear cut. First, my papers and presentations are on Enterprise Attention Management, not information overload. Information overload is a driver, but if I was to stop there I'd just be joining a chorus of people complaining about something with no solution. Enterprise Attention Management is the study of the processes and technologies used by information workers to determine which information and messages will be read, allocated time, and acted upon. And EAM is what I was really talking about.
I don't believe in muzzling anyone as a way to deal with information overload. From a creation point of view, anyone should create what they want and exercise constraints due to common courtesy and policy. Enterprises need to spend more time on giving information workers the tools they need to pull important messages forward and push unimportant messages back. It is the gold nuggets of information that will be created that are of value, despite the amount of silt that they are in. To continue the gold prospecting anaology, the proportion of gold nuggets to silt has decreased and will decrease over time. But with proper discovery techniques, those nuggets can be of great value. That one time that an engineer decides to blog about a problem they solved may save a huge hassle in a few years, long after they have left the company. Until it is needed, that information isn't harming anyone if your disk storage costs are reasonably low and discovery and attention shielding capabilities are up to the task.