Infoluenza

I first presented the concept of infoluenza at the AGLIN conference in Canberra in July 2006.  I later presented it at the Ark Group KM Australia 2006 conference in Sydney and then wrote a post on it on the act-km website.  As far as I know, this is a term that no-one else has defined; a quick Google search revealed nothing – apart from lots of misspellings of influenza.  If you know of anyone that has used it, please let me know by adding a comment.

Below is a description of what I mean by infoluenza.

A couple of years ago, Clive Hamilton from the Australia Institute wrote a book called Affluenza. In this book, he defined affluenza as:

  1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses.
  2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the Australian dream.
  3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth.

His thesis was that we work hard to pay off the mortgage and buy material goods but that our growing wealth only serves to increase our desires for more material possessions. Our attachment to money and material possessions robs us of autonomy and fails to deliver happiness. It’s a disease and one that appears for many people, very hard to cure. It’s not affluence that is the problem but affluenza, our attachment to materialism.

I used this concept to describe the informational variant, infoluenza. I define infoluenza as:

  1. The frustrated, overwhelmed and unfulfilled feeling that results from continued efforts to broaden information or knowledge management systems.
  2. An epidemic of confusion, vendor hype, paralysis by analysis, and suspect decision-making caused by dogged pursuit of a Technology Nirvana.
  3. An unsustainable addiction to incorporating more and more information.

The similar thesis here is that many people have a desire for more and more content and information but this attachment to information resources robs us of our search for deeper meaning. It fails to deliver contentment (which etymologically, is derived from the satisfied feeling that comes from being contained). Information is not the problem, but infoluenza – a disease of not being able to understand the limitations of deriving contentment from content alone.

Just as affluenza is a term that is increasingly being used in Australia to describe the disease of failing to master our affluence and therefore the need to broaden our goals away from material possessions and towards other contributors of happiness, infoluenza is a term that could be used to describe the failure to master our information resources and that to achieve contentment at work in solving our business problems, we need to turn our attention to other contributors of contentment apart from content (like relationships, stories, context, etc). 

Jack Vinson has identified some excellent cures for those inflicted with the infoluenza virus

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12 Responses to Infoluenza

  1. Infoluenza epidemic

    Luke Naismith writes about “Infoluenza.” This idea goes beyond strict information overload and suggests a group psychology that prevents us, as a society, from stopping and thinking about what we are doing and why.

  2. […] Infoluenza Mania de informação. Um dos sintomas é O RSSis! (tags: gestao conhecimento comportamento tecnologia) […]

  3. Maryam says:

    Hi Luke. I really liked your methaphor. May I have your full-text paper?

  4. Maryam

    At this stage, the full length version of the paper is not at a stage that is able to be provided (that is, it doesn’t exist!). However, many people have written about information overload and anything that I say would mirror those comments. What I was trying to do here is use a different term called infoluenza to describe this condition and to say that we need to treat it as an illness that can be cured and/or prevented.

    Luke

  5. […] Do we suffer from “Infoluenza”? What is it, anyway? If interested you can read more about it in a blog about Knowledge Futures […]

  6. […] Yesterday, I was reading two completely different articles and both talked about George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant.  The first was in the recent Quarterly Essay on Voting for Jesus by Amanda Lohrey on the intersection of Christianity and Politics in Australia (a great read by the way).  The second I can’t quite remember – I tend to read so much different stuff and I can’t seem to put a handle on what it was – just a mild case of infoluenza there! […]

  7. […] back to Luke Naismith and his term infoluenza. In his Knowledge Futures blog, Naismith defined infoluenza […]

  8. […] of workers with too much information distracting them from their real work – it could even lead to infoluenza. Forced corporate blogging or flogging reduces this confusion.  Subject corporate blogging or […]

  9. […] The kick up the bum to get me started was the KM Australia conference last year when I talked about infoluenza and people wanted to find out more about it (that paper still has not been written and is not going […]

  10. Ahmad says:

    Thank you for an informative article! Hopefully we see a lot more posts in the future. It is not often I save a site to return to.

  11. an individual associated with with regard to creating this particular

  12. […] Clive Hamilton in Affluenza where we just want more and more and more.  Luke Naismith called this Infoluenza – but I think it is more like the obesity issues we have in our society.  We feel like we […]

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