How to Avoid Information Overload – Separating Signal from Noise


Publishing of all sorts is now easier than ever. Books, music, web sites, blogs, video and film, audio podcasts, visual design…many forms of expression are now supported by powerful, yet relatively easy to learn, software tools.

Avoiding Info Overload

The Upside: Freedom of Expression

Now more than ever people in so called “First World Countries” with even modest means can create and publish content. Even citizens of some developing countries now have access to the web and publishing technologies. But there’s a downside.

All that publishing, combined with the Internet as a backbone of communication, is contributing to a vast information explosion. The result for many of us is information overload.

The Downside: Too Much Noise

Information Overload Definition: Signal-to-noise ratio (often abbreviated SNR or S/N) is a measure used in science and engineering that compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. –

Not everything being published is of high quality. OK, that’s being kind. There’s lots of junk being published that is pure noise. Just too much information. More and more, we have to learn how to tune into the true signal, information that is actionable and useful. (I find email information overload especially challenging.)

Discerning the Signal

My favorite method of discovering helpful information is to identify experts. Not the self-proclaimed “experts” who are just out to make a buck and further inflate their egos, but the true thought leaders who provide profoundly helpful principles and techniques. I often locate these experts by first finding “curators” in a given field. (Akin to an art curator, for example, who works in a museum.)

Got Curation?

My good friend, Roxanne McHenry, has become an expert in Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Publishing (among her many areas of expertise). Since 1986, this was an area I followed closely, including self-publishing books and audio series products. But given the info flood, I can’t sufficiently watch every niche within the Internet, publishing, marketing world, etc.—at least if I want to get any work done. Since I trust Roxanne’s research abilities and she’s curating content in this space, I know I’ll be well informed by reading her blog posts. She’s constantly separating the wheat from the chaff—the signal from the noise—so I don’t have to.

Building Our Own “Unofficial Advisory Council”

In each of the areas in which Positive Projections provides services, we’ve identified and follow trusted experts. We pay for some of the information—sometimes at premium prices—while other content sources are freely available. We listen to topic curators and experts who work hard to deliver as much signal as possible. This strategy saves us considerable time and allows us to provide our clients with great info.

This Positive Projections blog will be our contribution to curating a variety of technical and marketing topics of interest to solopreneurs and organizations, both for profit and nonprofit.

What Are Your Strategies?

We’d love to know how you cope with managing information overload—and perhaps even thrive—in today’s environment. We invite you to scroll down and enter your comments and/or questions.

About the Author

Kirk VandenBergheCoaching and training in personal development, entrepreneurship, and technology since 1976.View all posts by Kirk VandenBerghe →


  1. Curated Series – Tips, Stats and Wisdom (issue 14) | unifiedinbox
    Curated Series – Tips, Stats and Wisdom (issue 14) | unifiedinbox09-06-2011

    […] How to Avoid Information Overload – Separating Signal from Noise more […]

  2. Dean Kosage
    Dean Kosage09-09-2011

    Your idea is real great. I just found a person who just got the right things and right ideas that the world need-
    Thanks lot! ~ Dean

    • Kirk VandenBerghe
      Kirk VandenBerghe09-10-2011

      Thanks, Dean

  3. Todd Lohenry
    Todd Lohenry09-21-2011

    I use a combination of Gmail and Google Reader to manage just in time vs. just in case info. Just in time is about relationship and revenue and just in case is about everything else. Another way to put it is that Gmail is about people and Google Reader is about trusted sources and searches that bring the information I need to me. To put it in your language, Google Reader is my virtual advisory council that keeps me informed about the things that are important to me…

    • Kirk VandenBerghe
      Kirk VandenBerghe09-21-2011

      I like your “just in time” – “just in case” distinction, Todd.

      Sounds like rather than Google Reader being your virtual advisory council, it’s a tool that supports the activity of engaging with your council with the result of staying informed.

      On a related note, I’ve been enjoying Reeder for iPad to access my Google Reader subscribed feeds, and away from my desk.

  4. Mobus41

    Hi there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of hard work due to no back up. Do you have any solutions to prevent hackers?

    • Kirk VandenBerghe
      Kirk VandenBerghe06-24-2012

      Yes, we’re having a positive experience with Sucuri Security, including their WordPress plugin.

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