I Want More Information, Not Less

I spent the last two days at the Defrag Conference.  It was awesome on so many levels including the content, the venue, seeing a bunch of great friends, and meeting a bunch of new people.

The conference originated out of an email exchange that Eric Norlin (the amazing guy who puts on the Defrag and Glue Conferences with his even more amazing wife Kim) and I had as a result of a series of blog posts that I wrote in 2006 starting with There Is A Major Software Innovation Wave Coming and Intelligence Amplification.

Over the past three years there has been an incredible amount of innovation around this theme (which we originally called the Implicit Web.)  While lots of it is still messy, sloppy, or ineffective, that’s just part of the innovation cycle.  A consistent discussion point at Defrag was “how to deal with this overwhelming amount of information” – there is no debate about the (a) amount, (b) need to deal with it, or (c) value of dealing with it.  However, a lot of the subtext was that there was too much information and we needed better ways to deal with it.

I agree with the conclusion, but not the premise.  I don’t think there is too much information.  I want more.  More, more, more, more, more.  MORE.  I don’t want to stop until I have all the information.  MORE!  You can’t give me too much information!

I don’t believe the issue is too much information.  This is an independent variable that we can’t control.  For the foreseeable future, there will be a continuous and rapid increase of information as more of the world gets digitized, more individuals become content creators, more systems open up and provide access to their data, and more infrastructure for creating, storing, and transmitting information (and data) gets built.

Yeah – I know – that’s obvious.  But there are a few ways to approach it.  My desired way is to accept the thing you can’t control (more information) and drastically improve the methods for consuming it.  I spent the better part of two days having this thought over and over again. 

By the end of the second day, I’d decided that my original premise was correct – there continues to be a huge innovation wave in software that addresses this.  And we are just starting to deal with it.  And while software is at the core of it, we’ve learned an enormous amount in the past few years about the power of people to help curate it, both directly (by doing things to it) and indirectly (by software interpreting the broad signals of what a large number of people are doing to it.)

The user interfaces – and user interaction model – for all of this stuff still sucks rocks.  And I love things that suck, because that creates huge opportunities for innovation.