I once pitched a magazine editor a story about Chicago's attempt to "end homelessness"; the editor turned me down wearily, "David, the homeless have been with us a long time." Translation: Nobody believes this is a problem we can solve, and so nobody will read about it.
The same can be said about other subjects we all agree are problems but don't really believe we'll ever fix: poverty in general, public education funding and healthcare.
The communication-industry equivalent of these issues is "information overload," an issue we started hearing and talking about with the widespread embrace of the Internet, a dozen years ago. All the studies showing how most people feel "bombarded" by information. The (largely phony-baloney) efforts to count the number of messages an average person receives in a day. And the fear on behalf of communicators that their crucial messages will never stand out from all those other, trivial murmurings that distract their audiences all day long.
Most of us gave this problem up as insoluble years ago and either stuck to our knitting and hoped somehow our messages would get through, or embraced every new-media medium that came along and hoped to transmit our tired messages through a new medium.
Not Bill Boyd, my longtime correspondent, and a real communicator's communicator. Over the years I've known him, when Bill isn't doing communication for his employers, he's thinking about communication. And in recent years, he's become fixated on one stubborn problem.
You guessed it.
Bill has been working with a consortium of mostly academics called the Information Overload Research Group. They have a website and a blog and a conference coming up in April—and, since they all have day jobs, they have a need for similarly hopeless geeks who still worry about information overload and believe a solution can be found.