From the EditorDealing with Information Overload

Joshua Hoffman

As I think about our two primary topics this month—SharePoint and Office Communications Server—it's actually not all that surprising to me that we often have trouble connecting with one another. You see, as I write this note (likely about a month or so in advance of your reading it), New York City is in full-tilt holiday mode. And as it happens, TechNet Magazine headquarters is located at the epicenter of the holidays in New York: Rockefeller Center. It's really a wonderful area of the city in many ways, but for about a month every year it becomes ... let's call it a challenge. The population swells (even further) with visitors from around the country and around the world who come to shop, or see a show, or go ice skating against the backdrop of majestic skyscrapers. Many New Yorkers, however, beat a hasty retreat.

Some argue that this occurs out of frustration with the tourists who stop in the middle of the sidewalk to take a picture and thus force those of us behind them to either stop short or run into them. But that's not it (really, we're glad you're here—snap away). I think it's just overload. Amidst an already crowded and busy city, we hit a tipping point, and it's just too much.

With this in mind, I turn to our industry and see much the same trend. Our organizations continue to grow (which is probably what we're hoping for), and, as a result, we generate more and more information every day. Our file shares are full. Our databases are full. And let's not even discuss e-mail. It wasn't that long ago that a gigabyte was a lot of storage. Today, terabytes are common—even in home PCs. Many datacenters are now being planned with petabytes in mind. I think we can agree; there's a lot of information out there. But is it useful, or is it just overwhelming? Is it structured? Easy to analyze? Easy to share?

So again, with the overwhelming amount of information, I'm not surprised that it's hard for us to connect. But it could be a lot easier, which is what we discuss this month. Inside this issue, learn how to harness the power of SharePoint to make data gathering easier and more organized in your enterprise. Learn how to rapidly build surveys to collect that data from your users (or your customers). Learn how to define custom content types so the information you do collect is far more meaningful. And finally, learn how to use Office Communications Server to enable you to make those critical connections. After all, what good is having all that data if you don't have someone to share it with? —Joshua Hoffman

Thank you to the following Microsoft technical experts: Ed Banti, Susan Bradley, Byron Hynes, Michael Murgolo, Ken Oien, Jim Truher, and Kay Unkroth.

© 2008 Microsoft Corporation and CMP Media, LLC. All rights reserved; reproduction in part or in whole without permission is prohibited.