Our Informational Challenges

Apology for the long delay, I spent all last week at a trade show for work and am just not getting my feet back under me. Hope to get back to a more regular schedule this week.

I’ve been at this blog for about a month now, and I can see it’s purpose and direction shifting. I got into this thinking I’d talk mostly about personal information management. My first few posts focused on RSS feeds, task management, and similar such things. Quickly though it started shifting. I found myself talking about information on a wider, more global scale. Organizing financial data for crowdsourced financial regulation, intellectual property challenges, crowdsourcing in general. Once I started thinking about the issue I saw informational problems everywhere. In my own work as an analyst, on a global scale in developing nations, in my fathers work in the medical sphere. Everything seemed to boil down to information, collecting, sorting through it, manipulating it, and drawing conclusions from it. Now it’s these informaiton problems that have captured my interest, and drive most of my thoughts on the issue. This is what I’m truly interested in writing about, not just how to process  my daily backlog of information.

My reading and thought have led me to a couple of conclusions, listed and explained below.

The primary challenges of the modern world are probelms of information. Just as I said above, ultimately most problems eventually boil down to coming up with effective ways to acquire and process information.

Informational problems are most difficult when we don’t recognize them for what they are. When information doesn’t flow as needed or wanted, people start to see each other as villains or idiots. They don’t recognize that the information in their heads isn’t widely accessible, and that others are generally make the best decisions they can with limited information at their disposal.

The information we need to solve most of our problems is already around us. It’s usually just not properly structured, or not in the hands of those who have the power to act. Channeling information appropriately has the potential to solve a great number of problems.

We are uniquely poised to deal with informational problems. While these informational challenges are often a result of the fast paced tempo of the modern world, the modern world has also given us some great tools to solve them. Lighting fast communications and powerful computers give us the horsepower to brute force our way through information based problems, either by leveraging the crowd or data crunching algorithms. But often solving these problems requires rethinking our traditional approach to privacy, control, and a whole host of other things.

These conclusions and this lens for looking at the problems of the world has given me a new found purpose for this blog, a focus less on personal information management and more on the challenge and promise of a focus on our informational problems.

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