Information overload in a virtually augmented world

information overload CSC Blogs

#BrainOverload #InformationOverload #DigitalDisruption #DigitalMind #DigitalRehab

Are these hashtags good or bad? It depends on which storyline you choose.

At CSC TechCom earlier this year, I tweeted a few times about #InformationOverload. Why? Because I was learning new things from 6 a.m. until midnight whilst dealing with jetlag, homesickness and manflu (Yes, women get manflu too). All at the same time.

Once tweeting, I thought about the perception I had created, that perhaps I couldn’t deal with the amount of information coming in my direction. However this was certainly not the case. On the contrary, I was in my element, loved every moment and was taking my time to figure out how best to process all that information so others could learn from my experience when I went back to Australia.

I’ve learned that people have different ways of taking in and absorbing information. Sometimes, those who are normally chatty go quiet — not because there is something wrong, but because they are intently learning, thinking, applying and making the most of the opportunity in front of them.

This was the case for me at TechCom. I wanted to learn as much as possible from my CSC family whilst having access to the brightest minds in the organization. My determination came from being away from my own family — my happy place, my husband and our two baby girls — and my desire to share this experience with my colleauges back home.

The phrase never judge a book by its cover seems quite apt here. Often, #informationoverload is a temporary state in which we put ourselves in to feel the full immersion of information and then chose what is relevant to store. To the unknown observer, this might be seen as being swamped. However, it is what you do with the information that brings a positive spin to the story.

Once information has been analysed and processed, it can be used again and again. Years in the future, you can call on information gathered years before. The ability to recall and represent what you are thinking in a way that can be shared with others is a rare gift. Doing this with others’ thoughts is even more difficult. Some of us choose to use visuals and pictorial representations to explain what we’re saying and thinking and make connections to other areas of expertise, subject matters or different technology.

In the digital age, it’s possible to imagine a world in which we all collaborate in this way — visually and remotely. We can create an augmented/virtual world in a spherical canvas — similar to that of the Microsoft Virtual Painter 6 — to display our thoughts and let others see and respond. Imagine a Vision version for those of us who know Sparx, I Server or ARIS. Imagine our Solution Architecture models presented in augmented reality. IT architecture can become an art form in itself.

Discussing this idea with Lewis Richards of the Leading Edge forum, he shared a great insight:

“This type of technology has always been with us, at every stage of something new, there is the commensurate ‘wow’ technology that promises heightened interaction. The problem has not and never will be the technology. The problem is us! How do we ensure we as humans develop the ability to surf at a meta level of this stuff? We need to be more like painters than programmers. We need to ‘see’ the topology of choice and swoop and dive into and out of whatever fits our purpose. We are surrounded by muscle memory, 20 years of scar tissue of email and word docs. The early adopters (of which there are always) need to do more to help engage their fellows. This is the secret to success in my view. We need to nudge nudge nudge behaviours.”

This in itself is another blog post for another day, but it holds true that we need to inspire others to be creative and disruptive along the journey.

In the virtually augmented reality of the future, we will all be able to bring innovative thinking to the table and visualize in real-life an abstract solution — not just on a white board, or a blank piece of paper. Perhaps we can develop the right mindset to store virtual IT architecture models in long-term memory banks and recall them when another pertinent use case arises. We could double click on the technology and link to the code, the software or hardware. This type of information retrieval could be really useful, solving problems we never knew possible or connecting old solutions to new problems.

Perhaps in this future, #InformationOverload will become an archaic term, or perhaps we will find even more ways and reasons to immerse ourselves in knowledge.


Sarah James was ANZ lead for Authentic Leadership in DXC and an advocate for DXC’s Women in Leadership and STEM. Prior to leaving DXC in September 2017, Sarah founded the Empowering Future Leaders blog and was its primary author. With over 15 years of experience in the world of IT, Sarah’s specialty is spatial information and includes integration on projects as diverse as mapping volcanoes in Hawaii to delivering high-tech police vehicles.

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