Technology can make things easier, but doesn’t it also increase our distractions? How can we be efficient with so much extraneous information swirling around?
There’s always been extraneous information floating around. Certainly with so much now being made available it is important to find ways of channeling, aggregating and presenting it in a way that makes sense and is useful. Wikipedia is perhaps the best known example of how we are beginning to do that. Another is the work of Hans Rosling who is revealing the true state of the world’s health and development – allowing us to make more informed decisions about tackling poverty and child mortality. He can do this because the ability to collect, analyse, and visualise data is now more powerful than it has ever been – but you need the skills to do it right. If you ask the right question you can get some truly illuminating answers. Ones that can change the world.
I would argue that I’m much more efficient with technology than I am without it. Equating more information with a lack of efficiency makes no sense to me. The ability to capture and process data is one of the great achievements of our age – and allows us to do incredible things – from predicting healthcare needs to building sat-navs. Sure there are examples of people getting lost in their data, but that’s in no way a general trend. In fact, our technology is now, for perhaps the first time, giving us more free time, if we want to take it – something Clay Shirky calls ‘cognitive surplus’.
We’ve been in a relationship with one system of organisation – the industrial capitalist hierarchical model – for a long time. It’s like we’re married. But we’re in the slow process of realising we’re not getting along like we used to. We’re scared to break up with it. We’ve been together so long. But eventually, once we’re through the divorce, we’ll fully engage with this new relationship – and like all relationships it’ll have it’s ups and downs, but hopefully we’ll have learnt a bit from the last one to make the next one an improvement.