Awareness Overload

by | Oct 1, 2019 | Change, ICT4D |

Standing in the aisle at the supermarket, there are over 50 different types and brands of jam. I didn’t expect this when, at home, I wrote jam on my list of things to get. Choice overload and paralysis sets in.

Hearing about a colleague’ young child’s diagnosis, I turn to google to learn what the medical words mean and understand a bit of what is going on. Within milliseconds thousands of pages are presented from highly technical to all kinds of images. As I try to read some, awareness overload sets in.

This is not an uncommon experience. The sense of overwhelm is common when we, as humans, encounter something new or a multitude of choice.

Therefore, even though I am a proponent of the need to improve how we create awareness of ‘going digital’, we need to remember the jam aisle and google. When we digitally register people affected by a disaster or a refugee, awareness needs to come in stages. If we do it all at once, it’s unlikely they will remember anything. At the same time, if we only raise awareness once, it’s also unlikely to stick.

It is important for us to help others understand why we are collecting their data, how we are using it, who we are sharing it with, and what rights and alternatives they have. And yet, if awareness is a firehose, no one will succeed to drink. Perhaps we need to provide options of thimbles, sippy cups, cups, glasses, and so on.

Creating awareness is not a one-size fits all endeavour. Like change, it happens drip by drip by drip.

Photo by Peter Bond

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