Thinking Clearly in the Age of Information Explosion
We live in the age of information explosion. There is an endless flow of information, easily available at our fingertips, through smart devices like our phones, digital technology and the internet. There is no doubt that technology has radically improved human civilization. But there are dangers too.
According to the latest ‘Data Never Sleeps’ report by a market research and business intelligence company Domo, the internet reached about 4.5 billion people on Earth last year. In their infographic, they reveal that some of the world’s leading companies like Facebook, Google, Netflix and Microsoft facilitated incredibly high amounts of data exchange and activity last year. For instance, YouTube users uploaded about 500 hours worth of videos each minute of 2020. Another example: WhatsApp users shared about 41, 666, 667 messages to each other each minute of 2020. And another example: the popular short video sharing app TikTok was installed 2, 704 times each minute of 2020. This, in fact, is just a brief look into the exponentially growing relevance of digital data.
Understanding the Importance of Digital Information
From the dawn of the internet a few decades ago, people around the world have started relying on an increasing number of computers, phones, gadgets and smart devices. Because the internet and related technologies brought convenience to people, smart devices become part of the modern culture. We are surrounded by more technology now more than ever before in History. And, considering the trends today, we can safely predict that our dependence on technology, smart devices and similar machines is only going to grow with time.
Along with the exponential growth of smart devices, people have been creating digital information actively as well as passively over the years. With the amount of digital information accumulating over the course of time, people wondered whether data can help them even more. So, they began studying data in more detail and thus discovered that thorough examination of data can reveal meaningful patterns underneath.
In the context of the professional world, the study of data to identify meaningful patterns can is greatly helpful. They are a means to make better informed decisions, as supported by evidence within data and so, they help improve services or products. Thus, as an increasing number of people started to see data as a valuable resource, the field of ‘big data’ was born. Big data is the analysis of extremely large quantities of data – one of the growing professional fields today.
In light of the growing relevance of digital information, many leaders had recently recognized data as ‘the new oil’ i.e. a very valuable resource in the modern age. But alongside the rise of data, there are a few accompanying dangers, for both businesses as well as common people. Here are two huge dangers associated with the growth of data today:
The Threat of Cybercrime
Data is most valuable to businesses. Thanks to data, they can find ways to improve their services, make more money and grow their brand continually. But alongside harnessing data, modern organizations need to protect their data from the threat of cybercrime. Certain forms of data like sensitive personal information, financial details and trade secrets are extremely valuable – they mustn’t fall into the wrong hands. So, they practise modern cybersecurity measures to protect their digital information from malicious cybercriminals.
Digital Information Can Work Against the Well-being of the General Population
Similar to the growing amount of data helpful to businesses, there is a vast amount of information easily available to the general population. Common people like you, me, youth, elderly and others are largely unaware of the titanic role of data within the modern business world. But we still face dangers. We encounter seemingly unending waves of information on our smart devices; in addition to legitimate information, we also find lots of unreliable or contrasting information as well as misinformation. So, we face challenges too: we become confused, indecisive and we don’t know whom to trust, to just mention a few.
To better understand this situation, we can look to the phenomenon of ‘the paradox of choice’: When we have a very large number of choices in front of us, we may feel happy initially. But slowly, we become so paralyzed by the variety of options that we become unable to make a decision satisfactorily. We thus can’t think properly or clearly. To give you an example, when you walk into your favourite restaurant, you may want to eat many of your favourite dishes. But it’s simply not possible to eat everything you like at once.
As a means to save ourselves from the paradox of choice, we must try to learn with time. Before coming into such situations, we must try to spend some time in advance to properly consider the best choices we would like to make. We must learn to know ‘why’ we want something, ‘why’ we are doing something and ‘why’ a particular choice is the best once, in times of confusion.
Digital information is here to stay. The business world is irreversibly invested in the value of data. So, businesses must realize that data is a very valuable asset. On the other hand, common consumers should be try to think properly and clearly, on their own, without losing themselves to the unending streams of information available online.
So, the next time we pick up our phones or browse the internet without a proper reason why, let’s gently take a step back. In case there is no genuine reason for us to use our phone or computer, let’s spend a few moments to consider a really good reason.