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Overload!: How Too Much Information is Hazardous to Your Organization by Jonathan B. Spira

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CHAPTER 3

WELCOME TO THE INFORMATION AGE

“There’s so much in the newspapers.”

“That’s true – one gets dizzy merely looking at them.”

—Hans Fallada

Today’s Information Age had its start in the early 1980s with the breakup of the Bell System and AT&T, a move that led to a competitive telecoms environment that was able to build the commercial Internet that is somewhat taken for granted today.

This communications revolution has brought with it myriad changes in how work is done. While as recently as five years ago, much knowledge work was relatively solitary, today knowledge workers expect to be able to tap into a variety of resources – be they people, information, tools, or the collective knowledge of an organization – when doing their work.

One thing that has changed is the recognition that knowledge workers (sometimes referred to as information workers) are the linchpins of the Information Age.

We define the knowledge worker as a participant in the knowledge economy and the knowledge economy as an economic environment where information and its manipulation are the commodity and the activity (in contrast to the industrial economy, where the worker produced a tangible object with raw production materials and physical goods).

Ironically, many of the tools that support knowledge work, while having acquired significant functionality, haven’t changed to better support new ways of working.

What has to happen in the workplace is nothing less than revolutionary. Software needs to adapt ...

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