Information overload and connectivity

On one side we are urged to increase our connectivity – we are told that all learning starts with a connection, to learn we need to be well connected, to keep up in a fast moving digital age we need to know how to filter, select, aggregate, remix, repurpose, feed forward. We are urged to be open and connected, and to become involved in global networks.  It is not enough to simply join these networks and observe – this is regarded as ‘taking’ – we must share, create for the benefit of others and reciprocate.

On the other side, when people stop to think about it, such as over the Christmas break, there is a realisation that all this connectivity can very easily get out of control and become an unbearable burden.  Blog posts by Will Richardson and Beth Kanter both discuss this from different perspectives. There has been a discussion on Quora to which George Siemens contributed and we have been reminded in some posts of Clay Shirky’s suggestion that information overload is a consequence of filter failure.

Of course, as soon as people have a break – such as we have just had with Christmas and New Year – it suddenly hits us that there must be more to life than …… whatever it is that puts our life out of balance – such as has been perceived in recent online discussions and posts as an imbalance between connectivity and information overload.

But I’m wondering whether it is information overload that is the problem. Isn’t it more a lack of understanding about what we mean by connectivity and what role connectivity should play in our lives and learning? It seems that it is often interpreted that more connectivity is better – more connectivity means more learning, more connectivity means being able to keep up. But is this true? Would an answer to this question sort out the information overload problem?

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