Tuesday, 25 June 2013

From Dealing to Healing - UKeiG AGM Presentation

I was lucky enough to give a presentation at CILIP's UKeiG Committee's AGM on the topic of collaboration and the work we do at ScHARR within Information Resources. I'd thought carefully about my role and that of some close colleagues and how things in our profession had changed rapidly over the last few years. One recurring theme was that of change and how to successfully change other's ways of working. The problem that has affected mankind since the dawn of civilisation was that of 'information overload', a term first coined when I was a small child in the early 70s. Back then I didn't obviously have any concept of this problem, but until recent times I would suggest it is a problem that children have not had to suffer. Now that I am a father I have seen how my daughter interacts with technology, media and communications and it is apparent that things are changing for all of us.

Technology wants more of your time

I considered my role and that tough act of trying to get others to engage with technology in a way that benefited them - not such a simple task any more considering the breadth and depth of technology now. I thought about what I do and the idea of being a dealer, a pusher of technology, a commodity that has a lot of potential for change, but with ever-increasingly bad side-effects. Those being distraction, attention deficit, time intensivity and generally having the ability to take a person away from deep thought. It was apparent after reading various books on the topic such as Work's Intimacy by Melissa Gregg and Hamlet's Blackberry by William Powers that there was an growing problem in the digital community. I discussed the issues with fellow information and library professionals and found that this was an increasingly worrying problem, that went beyond the workplace. I'd seen presentations on Nomophobia and not having your phone with you, articles on how to work more effectively by controlling technology better and in recent months come to understand that this problem is not going away, but getting worse for many of us. So as I result have started to shift my working and home life to one that readdresses the issues I have found in dealing with a mass of communications and technologies. It is not easy and after talking with people who felt the same have come to see it as an information obesity problem, one that needs us to look at the technology and communications we are becoming increasingly reliant on, being fed a stream of data that does not always equate to knowledge. The problem is that as we immerse ourselves in technology more, it becomes harder to mean ourselves off it. Nevertheless it is not all doom and gloom, I think there are simple things we can do to address these issues and there are still many people out there who will always have the ability to stay focuses on single tasks and achieve deep thought without effort.

As for the problem, you might be thinking what problem? well for a start, despite mentioning a couple of good books, I have not hyper-linked them. Simply because a link could take you away from this text, onto Amazon, from there to looking at other books, before you know it, you will have 6 tabs open and be a million miles from this first article, and considering that for many of us our attention spans are slipping, you have done very well getting this far. Don't misunderstand me, links are great, but less relevant in an age where basic language searches can find most things. If you are interested in those titles, just go back and search Google.

Back to the AGM, I was lucky enough to present after an interesting session from James Matthews, Head of Enterprise Technology at Huddle, a platform for content collaboration for government and enterprise. Our presentations very much fitted together and as we covered the problems facing a modern workforce but also the solutions at hand. We got to chat afterwards and it was obvious we shared the same growing interest of information overload. James has written a couple of interesting posts about it on his blog, especially this piece:

My presentation - From Dealing to Healing can be viewed here:

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