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Tabless Thursdays & Avoiding the Costs of Information Overload

How Tongue Fluttering Can Attract Baby Meerkats


I’m pretty sure I came across The Atlantic’s June 19 video “Single-tasking Is the New Multi-tasking” when I was working on—well, let’s be honest: when I was not working on something else. As a Ph.D. student in Information Science, I spend a lot of my life online. Don’t get me wrong; I love the Internet. It’s a fantastic place. However, like James Hamblin, the MD and senior editor whom you just met if you took the bait and watched the video, I too often find myself watching videos of meerkats and wondering how I got there.

Most of us live in an age of information overload. I doubt you doubt me, but if you do, check out The Information Overload Research Group (dedicated to “reducing information pollution”), or just head over to Wikipedia and click Random Article. While some thinkers such as NYU new-media professor Clay Shirky argue the issue isn’t with the amount of information but rather with filter failure, and others such as University of Washington iSchool professor and technologist David Levy argue that we must learn to govern ourselves and our interactions with information, I think most of us have felt overwhelmed enough to consider throwing our smartphones out the windows of moving vehicles.

Almost immediate access to all kinds of information along these digital highways causes problems for organizations as well as individuals. Data is more valuable than ever before, and the push to record, access, and analyze data has increased significantly—for good reason. In the field of Information Science, we often refer to the DIKW Pyramid: data, information, knowledge, and wisdom. Like all models it’s imperfect, but it’s functional. Data is the foundation, but there must be a move from data to information and then to knowledge so that the facts (or signals) can inform decisions.

Product lifecycle management solutions, like Arena PLM, help companies both large and small to control data flow and gain insight into information so that they can make good decisions and avoid the costs—both temporal and fiscal—of information overload. It’s very difficult for a company—no matter its size—to engage in a kind of metaphorical Tabless Thursday. Although a company may do one thing well, inevitably there are countless moving parts, people, and documents: all of which are sources of information.

Choosing a single, central system to record, organize, and provide visibility into these different sources of information is essential and a little bit like a Tabless Thursday. A PLM supply chain solution can provide one place for document control, new product information, change requests, compliance management, quality, project management, and even schedule notes. True, you won’t find videos of baby meerkats emerging from their tunnels for the first time, but you’ve got our blog for that. Now, close your tabs and get back to work!