The Consultant as the Content Curator: Ably Managing Information Overload

How modern day information professionals use organizational tools and content curated solutions to manage information overload.

A consultant from 50 years ago, traveling through time to present day, would be amazed at the speed of access, depth and breadth of the information that is available. With a few strokes of a computer keyboard, today’s analyst can find breaking news that is only hours old, up-to-date government statistics or in-depth business intelligence data on a competitor. Although access of this type may be a great benefit of modern-day living, the other end of the spectrum of this access is a feeling of being overwhelmed by the heavy volume of information.

Overcome Information Overload 

A multitude of publications and experts have discussed the topic of information overload in recent years. The suggested frameworks that are proposed to deal with this issue vary from expert to expert. A recent NPR article, for example, suggested that “single-tasking” may be the best way to handle too much information. Basically, the expert believes that concentrating totally on one given task/piece of information is the best way to tackle data overload. The single focus helps to totally review all aspects of a given topic/task in order to master it.

A positive attitude may be the most important first step in being able to control the reins of runaway information. A good starting point may be to define one’s precise information needs including industries, topics and keywords.  This process may be as straightforward as obtaining a piece of paper and pen and brainstorming for the most important concepts and keywords that are of interest in a given industry or to a given client. Visiting key industry publications and association websites can also aid in the brainstorming process.

Once the keywords and concepts are known, news alerting services can be initiated. For a very basic way to stay abreast of breaking news, Google alerts can be quite useful. After creating a Google account, an alert can be set up within minutes. The alerts can be created to come once per day or practically immediately upon being published, when a match is found. Additionally, individual media sites quite often have RSS feeds and/or E-mail alerting services so that an interested reader may be alerted of new content on a periodic basis.

Maintaining the Reins – Gleaning, Organizing and Analyzing Volumes of Data

When a researcher feels in control over the mountain of various feeds, keywords, sources and solutions, real value can be gleaned from the incoming data. Organization of the disparate pieces of information is the next step. Basic E-mail subfolders or news/literature organizers like Zotero can be helpful in creating buckets to place news, literature and assorted documents. Zotero has a free version whereby the user can organize articles and literature and then generate bibliographies. For more sophisticated solutions, InfoDesk’s InfoViewer and newsletter editorial assistance can help clients to funnel vast amounts of data into a categorized custom newsletter deliverable.

Information Professionals Managing Information Overload 

Once the alerts start coming in, the collection process is in place and the organizing/alerting services are running efficiently, a better sense of being in control should be felt. Data can be found more easily when it is organized. Accordingly, analysis of that organized data is also easier.

Although there will always be a new upstart publication that launches or a new hot buzz word that is created in a given industry, having a good alerting system can actually even help an information professional to find those new resources and keywords. Indeed, if armed with the right system in place, an information professional can convert a vast collection of unwieldy data and turn it into valuable insights.