The Information Paradox: Less is More

Computers now make it extremely simply to create information. With a couple of clicks, we can duplicate 1000+ page documents. It’s so easy to do, that many people don’t think twice about Copying the entire office in on almost every e-mail sent out (to “keep them in the loop”).

But why do we think “more is better” with regards to information? The answer lies in a simple (but flawed) piece of deductive reasoning.

Deductive Reasoning is something we use all the time, although you may not have ever realised it has a name. It is when we say

  • If This is True, and
  • This is True, then
  • This Must Be True

e.g.

  • All cars have four wheels
  • Johnny has a car
  • Therefore, Johnny’s Car has four wheels

When we apply this to information, we end up with this…

  1. Information is valuable
  2. The more we have of valuable things, the richer we are
  3. Therefore, the more information we have, the better.

But now we’re all suffering from “information overload,” it’s clear something isn’t right here. Is more information always better?

We have to remember that Information is a tool to help us make better decisions. Information doesn’t have an inherent value – it’s only useful to the extent that it entertains us, helps us make decisions, or helps others do the same.

So, in decision making, we want the smallest amount of information needed to make the right decision.

Less is more. If you can get your point across in 100 words, rather than 300 words… then do it!

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