Less data, more insight

Mark Hurst’s bit literacy — an approach to combatting data overload — is valuable reading both for your personal mental health and for its business implications.

Most consumers are aware that their time and attention spans are under attack by endless e-mails, IMs, alerts, advertisements, and digital entertainment. I suspect most businesses are not as aware of this problem. When I see investments to build complex and comprehensive corporate information factories , I wonder if there is true recognition that more is not necessarily better.

Mark’s comments could easily be applied to the businesses I’ve seen…

“when a person becomes bit literate, what remains after all the letting go is valuable. I equate that with meaningful. Because—and here’s the kicker—the bits by themselves aren’t meaningful. Bits are just pointers to meaning, just containers of thoughts, just phantom images of the real item. The meaning is what lies behind the bits, what drives the bits. In their super-abundant quantities, swarming and overwhelming our consciousness, bits obscure the very meaning that created them. It’s only after clearing out a path of emptiness that we can arrive at the meaning behind the bits."

This perspective should be considered by businesses as they try to decipher the truly important drivers behind a deluge of data.