Information is weak

Information is a weak form of communication – Viola Spolin

I like that thought. I think most of us default to thinking the opposite. Years of boring schooling and rote memorising have trained us to think that way. We overestimate our capacity to process all this information… and we assume that everyone can process it at the same rate. Hence the tyranny of powerpoint presentations.

PR agencies seduce clients with the promise of making them “thought leaders” but are more likely to create boredom and pomposity.  Privately or not-so-privately we’ll resent the person who claims thought leadership because really we’d rather a more level relationship where something new and interesting can happen.

1 thought on “Information is weak

  1. Chris Rodgers

    I like Drucker’s comments on the difference between information and communication, which echo and build on your main theme. Here is an extract from a blog post I wrote on this in 2009:

    Communication and information are different and largely opposite – yet interdependent
    • Communication is perception whereas information is logic. That is, information is “purely formal and has no meaning.”
    • Communication is interpersonal whereas information is impersonal. Information becomes increasingly informative and more reliable the freer it is of emotions, values, expectations and perceptions.
    • In communicating, we perceive a configuration of stimuli, whereas information is always specific. “Information is, above all, a principle of economy” – the fewer the data, the better the information.
    • “An overload of information … does not enrich, but impoverishes.”
    • Information presupposes communication. For information to be ‘received’ and used, there must be some prior agreement around meaning, that is, some communication.
    • The more levels of meaning a communication has, and the less quantifiable it therefore is, the better it communicates.
    • “Communications … may not be dependent on information. Indeed, the most perfect communications may be purely shared experiences, without any logic whatever. Perception has primacy rather than information.”

    Cheers, Chris


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