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Google Wave, Information Overload and the seduction of technology

by Chris Sutton | May 26, 2010
Google Wave, Information Overload and the seduction of technology

As I might have mentioned a few times recently, I’m freshly back from a couple of weeks on the beach on the Sunshine Coast. As most people do in business these days, I continued to keep in touch with the business by phone and e-mail (curious thing about that, far from stopping me relaxing, I found it was good to check mail once a day and then switch off, it actually reduced stress by having the tools to stay in touch with the business should the need arise). Starting from that theme, in today's blog I want to talk about Google Wave, Information Overload and the seduction of technology.

One of the things that keeping in touch remotely really made me think about was that, removed from the organisation of my desktop PC, the sheer volume of mail we receive was far more evident and it was easy to see how information overload can seriously impact on our working lives.

Information overload was a term popularised by Alvin Toffler in his novel, Future Shock. Written in the late 60s ,this obviously predated the Internet and the vast floods of information we receive today, but the description of the effect was prescient to say the least. Toffler wrote, "When the individual is plunged into a fast and irregularly changing situation, or a novelty-loaded context ... his predictive accuracy plummets. He can no longer make the reasonably correct assessments on which rational behavior is dependent."….

…hmmm, maybe our politicians are suffering information overload as well!

From a technology perspective, there are an ever increasing number of channels through which the information overload flows; e-mail, text, social networking, Twitter and smart phones that combine all these channels and pour ever increasing amounts of information clutter into our lives. So it’s obvious that technology is now the key element in the explosion of information we’re all faced with, and it seems that a rational person would know when to say enough is enough. But while it may be that when it comes to technology, as Alvin Toffler predicted, many of us are no longer entirely rational, I'm not so sure about that.

At the Google Developer conference last week, Google released its new product, ‘ Google Wave’.

“A wave is equal parts conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

A wave is shared. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.”

In light of my experiences on holiday dealing with mountains of information, you might expect that I'd be cautious about using yet another communication channel, but no I was in boots and all, one look and my reaction was...  “Great, how do I sign up for this?”.

The reality is that while we do receive vast amounts of information everyday courtesy of technological advancement, there have also been many products that do make our lives so much easier, and richer for that matter (remind me to talk about streaming music one day...). So the promise of a new product that will make our working lives more effective and efficient is hugely seductive and in fact that seduction of technology is one of the key drivers behind the unending flow of new gadgets and programs.

That promise is also what drives us here at SiteSuite to continue developing our product range, paticularly when hardly a week goes by without new methodologies for online systems being released. Our challenge is always to take those changes and make them useful for the business community, that's what has kept us excited about the business for over ten years, and in our view the web is still in its infancy when it comes to providing effective business tools, there's much much more to come.

So will you succumb to information overload or the seduction of technology? For us, whether it's Google Wave or many other products we'll be there with bells on. Now I've just got to figure out how to use Google's new toy....

SiteSuite Website Design - Online Marketing Blog Author Chris Sutton

Co-founder and Managing Director of SiteSuite Australasia, Australian pioneers in web design and ecommerce since 1997. For more from Chris you can follow him on Google+ or Twitter, and for further professional musings and thoughts on his other passions in life,

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