Information Anxiety2: A Guidebook for the Information Age. | WebReference

Information Anxiety2: A Guidebook for the Information Age.


Information Anxiety2: A Guidebook for the Information Age

By Laurie Gray ( )

We are awash in information. E-mail, the newspaper, televisions, radio stations and the Internet ensure that we're never more than a few moments away from the juiciest information of the day. But what do we do with all of this information? Instead of harnessing the power of all of this information as we have intended, we are getting buried by it.

Richard Saul Wurman explores this dilemma in his new book, Information Anxiety2. Wurman, who coined the phrase Information Architect in 1975, examines our love-hate relationship with information and gives some practical strategies to control it as both consumers and producers. Wurman began the study of this dilemma in 1989 with his prophetic book Information Anxiety, where he tackled the subject in the pre-Internet world. His new book functions as a guidebook for those of us living in the Information Age.

The power of this book is that the discussions and solutions relate to all types of media. Initially, I expected this book to discuss only Web-based information; it didn't take me long to realize that Wurman was discussing something much larger. The mission is beautiful in its simplicity; once you learn the rules for sharing and receiving information, you can effectively apply them in any context you choose. Wurman quickly provides the reader with nuggets of immediately applicable wisdom. Consider this statement:

"The first question that most consumers are going to ask about your company is what do you do? This is one of the most profound questions that the business world will ever answer; yet, most do an abysmal job of answering it. You can open the pages of any technology magazine to see how poorly many companies answer this question...

...What does your organization really do?...Companies trying to sound hip and sophisticated deprive their potential customers of an opportunity to understand their business."

He goes on to point out that the current trend in technology advertising makes it very difficult to determine what a company sells – instead of selling hardware and software, everyone now provides "technology solutions"; a hip term that doesn't tell the consumer very much. As a result, the consumer is required to do much more work determining which company offers the best solution for them. Wurman then proposes that every company have a company story that "tells the world what your business is all about. It should be a tale of passion, triumph, motivation, and opportunity." He adds, however, "It shouldn't have anything to do with your company mission statement." He urges the reader to consider how much clearer technology-solution advertisements would be if everyone followed this model.


Created: February 12, 2001
Revised: March 2, 2001