Archive for February, 2010

Information Overload: how do we quantify the cost?

Posted on February 26th, 2010 · Posted in Impact and Symptoms

We grown-ups like to quantify things in numbers, as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry charmingly observes in The Little Prince: “If you were to say to the grown-ups: “I saw a beautiful house made of rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof,” they would not be able to get any idea of that house at all. You would have to say to them: “I saw a house that cost $20,000.” Then they would exclaim: “Oh, what a pretty house that is!”” So, it is no wonder that any fighter against inefficiency in the workplace is often confronted.. Read more

Knowledge Management Forum off to a good start

Posted on February 22nd, 2010 · Posted in Off-topic

Spent the day at the inaugural unconference of the  Israel Knowledge Management forum. This forum started  some years ago as a very informal gathering of interested professionals on the front porch of founder Yigal Chamish, and  is now making the tricky transition into a formal non-profit association. I was pleased to observe a well-attended conference, with some 130 attendees and many interesting parallel sessions. There was much networking, including via twitter (#KMISR10); I saw many familiar faces and many new ones. Importantly, attendees included seasoned veterans and young new members, and representation from organizations of every size, flavor and sector… Read more

Email and the two aspects of the Paper Trail

Posted on February 17th, 2010 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

One of the well known reasons why people create lots of unnecessary email in an organization is that they want to create a paper trail – written proof that they did something, or said something, or objected to something, so that at a later time they can assert that they did so when someone tries to shift some blame to them. Of course this is a symptom of a dysfunction in the organizational culture they work in; in a properly run operation there would be no unfair finger pointing, one’s word would be proof enough, and people could focus on.. Read more

How info-starved were our ancestors?

Posted on February 14th, 2010 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

“A weekday issue of the New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in an entire lifetime in the seventeenth century.” Variants of this statement (give or take a couple of centuries) are commonly seen when reading about Information Overload. Of course I agree that there’s more information available today than back in centuries past, but this particular statement always seemed suspicious to me. Is it true? And what if it is? First, it probably depends on what we mean by “information”. Is it printed information? In past centuries a sizable fraction of.. Read more

Five ways to prevent gaffes in email

Posted on February 8th, 2010 · Posted in Individual Solutions

The horror stories abound. A careless click on Send, and incalculable damage befalls a sensitive business deal or workplace relationship. Or the sender can become a joke. Or worse. This is not new; even before email, a careless letter could do much damage if it fell into the wrong hands, or was written in haste. I still keep a mimeographed letter sent by the HR manager of a company to all its employees, where his typist dropped a single letter in the phrase “To: all employees”. Unfortunately for him, this was in Hebrew, and the accidentally misspelled phrase read “To:.. Read more

Who stole our reading time?

Posted on February 3rd, 2010 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Impact and Symptoms

Novelist Alan Bissett wrote a fascinating post in The Guardian’s books blog, titled Who stole our reading time? It points out explicitly what we all experience: we read less today than ever before. And I’m not complaining about the young generation; I’m comparing now and then within the same generation, whether mine or Bissett’s (who is about a generation younger than me). The basic observation is that nobody has the time, or the will, or the ability, to finish books the size of War and Peace anymore; or to read the voluminous classics of centuries past at all. Bissett links.. Read more