Big and Broken IT Systems
Today, we have a lot of big and broken IT systems and the systems are not getting better. More and more features are built on top of an already broken system. Familiar interfaces get cleaned up and more data is made ‘visible from a single pane glass’. New features supplant old features, new icons and color schemes are added, but you are still working with the same structure of programs and files.
The improvements are mostly superficial and that seems to be all that we do with information systems. We don’t do a lot of deep thinking about how people need and use information. It is basically more of the same with some artificial intelligence thrown in for good measure.
But the fundamental problem with information systems is that most are built on top of flawed and simplified assumptions. Assumptions and biases are baked into every information system known to human kind.
What is Known
By definition, information systems only work with information that is known. Computers are good at searching and discovering patterns, but humans determine what data sets to look at and how to interpret it.
While recognizing patterns across great big data sets is something that humans can’t do own their own, there is still plenty of opportunity for misinterpretation. Using computational power to make predictions about future behavior is interesting for some marketers, but I am not sure that this is leading to great innovation.
Even though it seems like everyone’s information feed is mass customized, we are still very much in a mass produced mindset when it comes to information.
Small bits of information don’t add up to much. Big batches of information aren’t that useful either. Moreo, information systems don’t react to change very well. Moving beyond the era of big and broken IT systems will require more demanding users and more imaginative creators.