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Using is Believing

Last week,  I was talking with a friend of mine and former business associate. He told me he had purchased an iPad and was “blown away” by Flipboard and a few of the other apps he could use on the device to consume content. If you have been using the iPad, Flipboard, Zite or others you know where he is coming from.

The iPad (or other tablets, for that matter) and content consumption applications that impress people immediately are doing so not only by being very engaging and pleasant to use, but also because they have the power to  pull content from different sources into a unified view. While these virtues seem obvious to many they typically don't become so until people actually experience them for themselves.

In his book Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and our Daily Lives by the Year 2100, Michio Kaku observes that the exponential growth we experience with innovation is “often hard to grasp, since our minds think linearly. We are all seeing so much innovation these days that it can be mind numbing. Much like information overload, the only defense sometimes is to tune the information out and avoid constant distraction.

That is until we try something and say “Wow!”

We are still in the early stages of understanding how to leverage our ubiquitous access to information and knowledge, as well as the many modes and devices available for interaction. It reminds me of the early days of Twitter when the best way to introduce someone to it was simply to say “Try it!” rather than trying to explain it.

I am sure there are going to be many more “I am blown away” moments in the future as people embrace new devices and tools. That said, we have a long way to go to take these pleasant user experiences and map them to truly powerful infrastructure or the management of information and knowledge. But the innovation is occurring and, believe me, it is only mildly interesting to observe. It's even more fulfilling to participate.

Nowhere are these innovations regarding information and knowledge access more valuable than inside the business enterprise. So much investment has been made in how information is created and networked and yet there has been so little thought on the tools that allow information workers to thrive rather than be overwhelmed.

For me, the fun part about the conversation was sharing what we are doing in our lab at Attensa. The lesson of the day? Dive in, enjoy the experience …. starting now.

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