Recently I have had a curious question nagging at me that would have profound impacts on the way that we work with and around information. How do we determine the value of information, or what heuristics do we use to evaluate the worth of some information to us? Whether it be valued in terms of time, money, health changes, etc., we certainly make subconscious decisions regarding the ROI to consume a bit of information. I am wondering what facets others use to make this judgement call.
If you have personal anecdotes, thoughts, or resources, I’d love to hear of them. In the meantime, I am going to be looking into what has been uncovered in this area, and pursue what we can discover going forward.
Gabor Cselle had a nice blog article regarding this topic (though specific to email) a few years back, using research from Microsoft. The most common thread?
Riparian also lists a few of the interesting ways to classify messages: Dyadic reciprocity (who do we respond to), subject analysis (what kinds of things do we respond to), sentiment evaluation (what tone do we like), etc.
In my own tests with Musubi (tool for identifying and presenting only important emails), I’ve found that most people will identify important information as those either from important sources (friends, family, bosses, etc) or which require an immediate and significant change of action from the user (Fraud alerts, etc).
However, I’ve also found that each person has a significantly different view of what constitutes “important information” which can skew the results heavily. I’m interested in seeing what you find!