George Barna is the founder of The Barna Group and a founding director of the Strategenius Group. The Barna Group publishes studies on the intersection of faith and culture. The Strategenius Group is a business development and marketing firm. I recently read one of Barnas latest books, Futurecast: What Todays Trends Mean for Tomorrows World (Barna, 2011).
If you are looking for a fresh, brilliant, and expansive approach to demographics and trends, I highly recommend the book. Barnas book covers family life, media, people groups, technology, entertainment, attitudes, values, faith, religion, social media, lifestyles, and more. In the course of performing his demographic and trend analyses, Barna speaks to the growing problem of information overload from which we find no respite:
Although specific media choices vary by age and other demographics, the inescapable reality is that we are a nation addicted to media input. Statistics vary, but we know that the typical adult allocates more than fifty hours per week to media absorption. In fact, the only activity that takes more of our time is sleeping. Based on criteria developed by the American Psychiatric Association, our devotion to media content is literally an addiction. (p. 11)
Perhaps this is not surprising. What are we doing right now?
Ill leave it to you to decide whether you are addicted. Nevertheless, how do we handle this observation? Barna offers a wise understanding of how important it is to filter and sort the data for maximum benefit:
Thanks to the Internet, the expansion of numerous other media channels, and the explosion in social-networking sites, the world is overwhelmed with information. The challenge has shifted from collecting and disseminating facts to winnowing through the multiple storehouses of available information to pluck out the useful morsels, place them in a viable context, and provide a reasonable interpretation of their meaning and application. (p. x)
As I have heard some say, we are flooded with information yet starved for knowledge. Knowledge means we are making sense out of the vast ocean of information. Information all by itself tells us nothing. What we do with the data is what makes sense, produces meaning, and serves as the basis for helpful action.
Today, more than ever before, we must pick and choose how, where, and when we gather our information. Knowledge is too important to risk delaying its acquisition or polluting it with sloppy data gathering. The good news is we have immensely more tools to help us do this. By so doing, we can strategically swim in the ocean of information rather than letting it drown us.
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