STORAG – Information Overload
For me the issue is not so much as the influx of information that’s coming in, but more of the way you compartmentalize and use them. In my line of work, it’s pretty much easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information I need to process. Amidst projects and my masteral class, I have to rotate the programming languages I teach daily. (I actually learned my lesson here: Do not teach multiple NEW subjects in one term.) It has even come to a point that I tell my students to remind me if I’m going on and on about a different programming language than the one scheduled for them. So now I actually take extra time for preparations than I normally used to. (Translation: activiting and retrieving in my head only the knowledge that I need and concentrating on that for the day.)
Applying this scenario to online projects…I remember a certain period of time when none of my web statistics reporting tools seem to work for me anymore. I had used a particularly good one back in 2001, Web Trends Live, but I had to take that off after they started charging for it. Before that, the greatest thing since Swiss Cheese was Xtreme Tracking, since it recorded pageviews, unique visitors, geographical locations, browsers, and referrers. That was a far cry from the website counters of the 90s, which only indicated the number of hits and couldn’t tell the difference between a reload and a real hit. Then I came upon Web Trends Live and I was completely floored by the reports this tracker could give! It told you the regular stuff found in Xtreme, plus how many visitors came in, came out, repeatedly visited, which days/weeks/months are busiest, and which parts of your site are most in demand. Sure, there wasn’t much you could glean from the figures, but if you know how to play your cards right, you’d be able to find more about your visitors’ behavior or surfing patterns. With this, you could tailor your network’s capabilities in such a way that would accomodate both your site objectives and your visitors’ needs.
With Web Trends Live gone, I had searched for anything that came close, but the search was in vain. Because people pass through thousands of information everyday, it’s not any wonder how online behavioral patterns will change as time progresses. In my case, I needed new information that wasn’t available to me before. Thank goodness, Google mastered the art of managing information and knowing what details people need because they came up with — among other very useful tools — Google Analytics. While it can’t process the capacity of information that Web Trends Live can, it came up with even more useful stats that I have never seen on the former. It has two major categories (and each category has a list of subcategories): Marketing Optimization and Content Optimization. The most important thing here is not the fact that it has tons of data to provide, but how they seemlessly integrated this data with the rest of Google’s services while retaining its usability value.
This is the kind of information overload that I’d gladly welcome, because you only draw upon the info when you need it. I’m sure not everyone uses the same kind of statistical tools the way I do. But I’m sure Google Analytics is definitely organized enough to provide users with their basic needs without drowning them with stuff they don’t.