Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Simplifying the Health Care bill- part 2

The New York Times had a nice page where you can select your status and see how the Health Care Reform bill affects you.You can also scroll down and see highlights of all categories they are covering. Another feature of this page is making it easier to see some of the pros and cons of the new bill.

Now that the bill is published, I'm glad the media is trying to give a summary of it. I suppose they may have to add a disclaimer about the expected impact of the bill, citing the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Simplifying the Complex: the Health Care Bill

The recently approved Health Care bill is lengthy and complex. I've read many news stories to figure out what's in it, but haven't found any that made it easy to understand for those who haven't followed the bill for the past year.

Yesterday the Huffington Post did a nice job of letting me know what's in it for me. They had an 18 point slide show that outlined the major changes we can expect. While it was skewed towards the benefits of the plan, it helped me make sense of the bill and how it affects my family. I would love to see the alternate perspective to understand the objections to the bill, but I'm happy someone put out a simple summary to make this information easy.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Let's Give Them Something to Talk About

So what will I write about in Information Made Easy?

Some of it will be philosophical: Why is Less is More important? Why should we use this principle when delivering content? What is the meaning of life?

Some of it will be applicable:  How can we make it easier for people to cut through the noise and get to the signal? How can we deliver information without wasting people's time? How do we make sure people get our message?

Some of it will be anecdotal: A few days ago, a neighbor got a lengthy letter from a college, telling him his scholarship application was rejected. He and his parents read the letter and filed it away. None of them saw that the son was still eligible for another scholarship with an upcoming application deadline; he missed it and  won't be getting that scholarship either.

I'm sure some (or maybe most) of you think this family should have been more careful in their reading. I think the school needs to be clear and concise in delivering information that is critical to their customer. We are inundated with information and if you want to get your message heard, you better make that message easy to find and understand.

That's what this blog is about.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Well, How Did I get Here?- Part 2

In our last episode, I joined a major Pharmaceutical company as an Information Scientist.

I was fortunate to work with great colleagues including our Director, a thought leader who preached the Less is More approach to delivering information. He believed scientists needed to receive information that directly answered their questions and helped them make sense of their environment and projects. To do this, he hired Ph.D.-level scientists to collaborate with the bench scientists and scientific leaders, and he encouraged these Information Scientists to do high values work- making sure the right information was available to feed key decisions and strategies.

I loved this approach and believe it is part of the answer to information overload. I did well at my new company and was rewarded with promotions to exciting roles in Knowledge Management, Information Delivery, and Information Strategy. I got to work on our Intranet, our Library portal, and our Enterprise Search Engine and strategy, applying the principle of Less is More to solve real business problems.

Unfortunately, our company was recently acquired and I was laid off. The upside is I have more time to espouse the Less is More philosophy of information retrieval and delivery over the Internet!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Well, how did I get here?- Part 1

I'm a biological scientist who became an information scientist and information management leader. I earned my Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania and worked as a molecular biologist for several years after that. I got to study cool things like Lyme Disease, amoebas, and scrapie, the sheep version of mad cow disease, before turning my attention from the lab bench to the computer screen.

At some point in my career I realized that the day-to-day frustration with generating scientific results worth publishing no longer fit with my personal needs and strengths. When I say "at some point", I mean "when my company ran out of money and couldn't pay me".

I spent several months identifying my interests and strengths and realized I loved and was good at finding and using information. Amazingly (actually, through hard work and perseverance), I found a job in my old home town doing exactly that- working in the Pharmaceutical industry as an Information Scientist. This gave me an opportunity to use my strengths and my scientific background to collaborate with other scientists and get them the information they needed to do their jobs better.

Next post- moving on up.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Less is More- an Introduction

We live in an age of abundance where information seems as plentiful as water. While information in the right quantities is critical to learning, planning, making decisions, and getting things done, many of us feel like we’re drowning in it. My goal, my passion, and perhaps my purpose in life, is to help you swim no matter how deep the water.

The guiding principle of this blog is Less is More. I learned this principle when I started working for a Fortune 500 company, providing scientific and business information to R&D staff. I was fortunate to work with colleagues who understood how little time people had to review dozens of pages of content when they just needed to understand a few key concepts and facts to move forward with their work. Less is More became my catchphrase and while some resisted, most recognized that I was helping them by filtering information so they could use it effectively.

Who am I? I’ll tell you in my next post…