Boy, do I wish I had seen the Clay Shirky presentation last week at the Web 2.0 conference.  According to a bunch of blogs such as this one  Shirky claimed that information overload isn’t a new problem and the problem isn’t that there is too much information, but rather the filters that are used to share information.

Interesting thought.  While I don’t agree entirely with Shirky, I can see where he is headed.  His point, from what I gathered, is that we need to have a filtering problem, not an information overload problem.  I’d say we have actually both.  But for now I am going to build on what Shirky seems to be thinking.

We as a society have lost our ability to filter the information.  In fact I’d take it one step further – I think we are addicted to sharing information.  It has become an obsession, a compulsion and addiction.  It is now something we don’t think twice about doing – either in our personal lives or professional.

While Shirky points to the first printing press as the place that information overload started – I’d point to the advent of the Xerox machine as the place where people’s filter for sharing information went out the window.

While I am too young to have actually used them – the days when you had only three carbon copies to give to people forced a person to actually think about who should get the information they had just created.  Along came Xerography – and presto no more thinking.

Fast forward to today and I think we need to enter people into rehab clinics to detox them from their addiction to share.  Just because you can cc (carbon copy for those of you that don’t know that) 100 people on your email – doesn’t mean you should.  Just because you can now print out 100 copies of something in under 2 minutes, doesn’t mean that 100 people actually need, want or care about the information.

So next time you feel the urge to share — stop, think and filter.