In the last 10 years we’ve created more information than in all of human history before that.

It’s estimated there were 30 exabytes of information 10 years ago, and today there’s 300 exabytes of information. To give context of what an exabyte is, that’s 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes. So today exists 10 times the amount of information, and apparently it’s doubling every 18 -24 months.

Globally we are connected every minute of the day, being omnipresent in digital environments. Working and living in today’s constantly evolving environment, along with operating in the advertising/media industry which has seen rapid advances in information and communication; causes many of us, myself included, to have moments of FOMO. Being caught unaware by the latest new ‘news’ increases our levels of anxiety. It’s a necessity for us to keep up to date with the latest trends and news, along with advancements in platforms and technologies. The age of digital disruption forces our hand to take advantage of the ‘new’ to create opportunities, to gain a competitive advantage, to minimise threats and to make better decisions.

I was interested in understanding the tactics that others use to filter and disseminate information, so I sent out a survey* to senior and executive level people within the industry. The results indicated that like myself, 80% of people are ‘somewhat overwhelmed’ or ‘overwhelmed’ by the amount of information they needed to know and keep abreast of on a daily basis. Only 15% of respondents felt in control most the time. Two key observations came out of this survey:

  1. Our consumption habits show we are snackers, with over 50% of respondents consuming new information about the industry all the time. And we clearly all need a little Monday motivation to get us ready for the working week – as Monday is the day we site to consume industry news and updates.
  2. Industry publications are our primary information source, followed closely by LinkedIn and Google alerts. Facebook came in as our fourth source for accessing information. And we access this information through our smartphones followed by desktop.

Is this constant snacking impacting our ability? It will come as no surprise in this information rich economy, that our attention span is being impacted, decreasing over the past decade in line with the increase in external stimulation.  According to Statistic Brain our average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015.

What does this all add up to? Our minds are constantly connected, information is pushed to us in a constant stream of facts, insights, trends or jibber which we filter and/or disseminate or discard. Are we becoming smarter today because we are more informed? Or is the bombardment of information causing our memory to retain less?

Some would argue we’re not that much smarter than we used to be, even though we have much more information at our disposal. The real skill in this “hyper-link” economy is having the ability to pick out the useful information from all of the noise and assessing and using at the right time. Knowing where to retrieve information from our memory bank and other external sources, and accessing it in real time is what will us the competitive edge.


Sources: *Survey size of 40 Senior and Executive Media and Advertising people.

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