We are bang in the middle of the Information Age - the time in which access to and transfer of information is easier than ever before. Many of us grew up during this digital age. A digital native or not, most people will agree that there is an evident phenomenon of information overload in the world today.
Not necessarily a bad thing, is it? Who imagined that you could type “best sedan in India” in a tiny little search box, to get an information bank of 15 million web pages in less than 0.32 seconds, to help you make a purchase decision. But one click leads to another, and before you know it, you are lost in a complex maze of a highly unstructured information system. And this is just one way most of us access information. As new data produced at rapid rates start piling up to the existing stack, multiple access-points crowd the information gateway & our demand for information gets further complicated. It’s no surprise that in a recent study conducted by Euro RSCG, a vast majority (56%) of the 7000+ adults, from 19 countries around the world, say that they are concerned about this overload of information.
Library Classification System – the exhaustive system of coding and organizing library materials for a structured access is an inspiration to solving the issue of abundance and access. Technology, information architecture, graphic design and many other fields have identified this and offered solutions to tackle it. When information abundance meets structure, process & organization, the average human brain is in a better position to process information and makes a highly informed decision. Abundance then becomes structured chaos. Say for instance, when you search on Google, the results page offers you multiple filters that help you prioritize and process information based on your needs. Or your iPhone home screen that lets you organize applications based on their similarity – drop two separate news apps together to create a ‘News’ folder. Microsoft’s Metro design philosophy offers to solve this by offering a structured design approach that consolidates groups of common tasks to speed up usage.
A significant shift occurred when publishers and creators of content platforms gave away the control of organization to the users. Along came social bookmarking, tagging, screen customizations, RSS feeds and more. With Pinterest, user controlled content and information mapping has scaled new heights.
In spite of various efforts, the ebb and flow of complexity in the information age will prevail. Are we, as marketers and communication specialists, adding to this complexity or lessening it? Perhaps it is worthwhile that, the next time you write a creative brief or come up with consumer engagement strategies for the online world, you answer this: ‘How will this idea or campaign simplify your consumers’ life?’
(Originally published here)