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:
- The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses.
- An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the Australian dream.
- 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:
- The frustrated, overwhelmed and unfulfilled feeling that results from continued efforts to broaden information or knowledge management systems.
- An epidemic of confusion, vendor hype, paralysis by analysis, and suspect decision-making caused by dogged pursuit of a Technology Nirvana.
- 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