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Information Overload: Taming The “Trojan Horse”

“The computer is the ‘Trojan horse’ of our society. Internet technology has given us an ultimate number of choices of information and “people don’t want ultimate choice,” commented Gerry McGovern. With humour and insight, author, columnist and expert on Web content management issues McGovern gave PMCQ members strategies to tackle this “information overload.”

McGovern presented seven skills that the knowledge worker needs in order to manage information overload. These were to think better, plan better, research better, organize better, create better content, collaborate better, and network better.

According to McGovern, we’ve assumed that we don’t need to use our thinking skills because the “laptop will be our surrogate memory and our surrogate brain.” McGovern also lambasted the time pressures leading people to get Internet content produced as quickly as possible, with little forethought, then having to rewrite it.

“One of the greatest productivity drains is time spent looking for information,” said McGovern. Internet and search engine designers need to look at metadata and classification schemes, navigation and search tools, and layout and design in order to create good sites and good search engines.

“The objective of knowledge is to create action,” said McGovern. “We want to transfer our knowledge to our customers so they…. will act differently.” He emphasized that in communicating on the Internet, we need to get the right content, in the right quantity, to the right person and to understand that people need content that is up-to-date and concise.

McGovern also showed how the Internet has fuelled a movement towards collaboration, both in the workplace and in academia. With information rapidly becoming obsolete, the modern knowledge worker can’t afford to “hoard” ideas, but needs to share them with other individuals in a human network. In concluding he pointed out that, potentially, the Internet has tremendous power to deliver a cohesive company strategy and culture throughout the organization, as long as it meets the needs of the person who is coming to the website.

By Jadzia Jagiellowicz, President of The Medanalyses Group Inc., providing medical writing & market analysis services to the pharmaceutical, medical and healthcare industries.