Why new information is a cat in a box – and what to do about it

We’re bombarded with information all day, every day.

On first look, much of this information has a zero value – even the most targeted of RSS feeds or email subscriptions will still throw up information that is useless to us.

However, by looking at this in a different way, even this useless information can be found purpose and assigned value.

Let me begin with the hypothesis that all information is intrinsically inert. When it arrives in your inbox, RSS feed or through any social channel, it has a value of zero.

Much like Schrodinger’s Cat, the information is neither useful or useless at this point. The value judgement does not arrive until the cat is out of the box (to push a metaphor).

In reviewing the information in order to assign value, we read the headlines and perhaps the standfirst.

This takes time and effort. Therefore, useless information actually has a negative value since we’ve had to put our energy into deciding its worth.

So we get the following information value trend:

    Information arrives – 0
    Evaluated/useless – -1
    Evaluated/useful – +1

What do we do with the -1 pieces of information? Delete them from our inbox or mark them as read in our RSS feed of choice.

This is a waste of time.

Since we’ve consigned these -1 pieces of information to digital oblivion, we’ve lost something that we’ll never get back.

However, there is a way to increase the value of the information to +1 or +2:

You share it.

This may should like an obvious point, but not everyone knows what you know. And the people who follow you across your various channels may well be doing so to learn from your expertise and experience.

To them, your -1 information could be a +1 if it appeared on their radar.

This comes with five added benefits:

    1) Your followers benefit from your access to knowledge and information, thus increasing their own learning
    2) This reinforces their reason for following you in the first place – i.e. that you’re an information portal that they can benefit from
    3) Judicious use of sharing, key words and #tags will help to increase your social visibility across all touchpoints
    4) Intelligent sharing can help to increase your follower numbers, helping to increase your platform size, amplification and engagement probabilities
    5) -1 pieces of information are given utility to the new recipients (+1) and increase your standing within your chosen communities (another +1).

Therefore, I argue, you can turn a -1 into a +2 through intelligent, community led and focused sharing.

Of course, there are many other strands to this – the development of a community, consistent/reliable sharing of information. Subjects, in other words, for a forthcoming post…

What do you think? Do you agree with my analysis of -1 -> +2 information value? What do you do with 0/-1 pieces of information? Do you create value out of your clutter in other ways? Share by commenting below…


One thought on “Why new information is a cat in a box – and what to do about it

  1. Pingback: Are you wasting time on Twitter? «

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