Gathering Information

I’m a little late getting to my post today because of errand running this morning. My trip included a quick visit to the bank. On my way out, I noticed a sticker on the door with numbers running vertically—4, 5, 6—it took a second for the light turn on. Ah yes, must give bank employees an easy way to establish the height of any bank robbers when they exit.

Part of me thinks it’s an ingenious way to gather information, the other part of me wonders at the certainty that such information will be needed. My quiet community has seen one bank robbery (in 2005) during the last 30 years. The height sticker is found in other branches, so it’s clearly a company-wide practice. However, this bank was neither the one robbed most recently or even 30 years ago. So what drives the need for this information gathering?

Random information gathering, even of potential bank robber height, seems increased of late. The recent post from Steve Rubel on attention overload has left me wondering what drives our pursuit of ever more information. Feeds, web sites, emails, IM’ing, Twittering…the list of information sources seems never-ending and ever-growing. Have we become too inquisitive for our own goods?

This question plays devil’s advocate to my personal nature. It never feels like I can learn or know enough. I must find out everything I can and figure out how to apply it to my circumstances. I’m driven to make information useful. This perspective can create a series of complications in my day. I feel a certain attachment to my electronic information sources. If I’m waiting for a package to be delivered, I like checking the tracking number. I’m a habitual email checker, and I love visiting new sites that usually have little to do with my projects. It eats up a surprising amount of time.

From an early age, I considered information power. Not power in the Mr. Evil “mu-ha-ha-ha, I’ll rule the world”-way, but rather as a generator, a creative spark to keep me moving forward. Lately, I’ve looked for sparks that prompt blog posts and information that helps me create solutions for my clients. But as I try to fit everything in, I do wonder if it’s becoming too much. How much bandwidth do I have left? Do I really need to know about that latest gadget review on Crave? What drives your information-gathering behavior?



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June 2007
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