Information overload is not the issue. If it were, you'd walk into the library and die. As soon as you connected to the Web, you'd just explode.
In fact, the most information-rich place in the world is the most relaxing: it's called nature. It has more varied horizons, more detail, more input of all sorts. As a matter of fact, if you want to go crazy, get rid of all your information: it's called sensory deprivation.
The thing about nature is, it's information rich, but the meaningful things in nature are relatively few—berries, bears and snakes, thunderstorms, maybe poison oak. There are only a few things in nature that force me to change behavior or make a decision. The problem with e-mail is that it's not just information; it's the need for potential action. It's the berries and snakes and bears, but they're embedded, and you don't know what's in each one.
Monday, December 31, 2012
Meaning in Nature, from an Unlikely Source
David Allen is the Getting Things Done guy, so it was with surprise that in an interview with him I ran across this gem about how we filter, and how nature is information-dense but meaning-light: