The value of information
Lately I've become obsessed with information.
Just a few months ago, I was driving From Germany to Italy. The Autobahn was clear, and everything was smooth - until I hit Switzerland. Just that morning, a snowstorm brought a ton of new snow, and suddenly the tunnels towards Italy were closed. I was in deadlock with a few hundred other motorists. There was no information available. Busses, trucks, cars - everyone was stuck, nobody knew exactly why, for how long, or which other possible routes were open. The GPS was no help either. The Internet on my phone was no help. Eventually, I heard from another driver that about an hour away, in the wrong direction of course, there was a car train. You drive your car onto a train wagon, and the train drives through the tunnel. Not knowing if the roads on the other side might be closed, I decided to take a chance. So after an hour driving back into the wrong direction, and another three hours of waiting in line to get on the train, we made it through to the other side, and arrived at the hotel in Italy in the middle of the night.
When I was sitting in the car as the Swiss tunnel walls raced by me, for the first time in years, I remembered to appreciate the value of information. And I was thinking about my business, making movies. I lost about 7 hours in that journey. Not a huge deal, though quite annoying in a tree-day vacation. But what if this happens more often, and to more people? And i started to wonder how much time is lost by misinformation or simply no information. We estimate that we had close to a thousand people working just on the visual effects of "2012". So, what if - because of bad information, a single artist lost just about 10 hours a month. On average, artists were working for 6 months on the project. And maybe only 20% of the personnel would be affected. That's 10 hours x 6 months x 200 people, equaling 12,000 man hours. Let's put the average hourly rate across all artists at about 40 dollars. The tally comes to close to half a million dollars.
That puts it in perspective. The value of information.
There's a ton of information available, but for some reason it doesn't get to the right people. That includes myself. Right now I have 35 people working on our current project in my company, and I constantly have the feeling that information between artists, or from artists to their supervisors, and vice versa, arrives in an untimely manner - if it arrives at all.
It's not a trivial problem. How can we organize information, so it's accessible to whoever needs it? How do we find information? How do we even know that we need certain information? We may not be looking for it, or we might be looking for the wrong thing.
At this moment I'm using my Ipad to write this blog, my Windows7 workstation at the office to finish and upload it, while I'm checking my mail on my Android phone. We have an internal Wiki, a second wiki for another company I'm partnering in, Shotgun for project management, "Tara" with a SQL server backend for automated tasks, an Access database for on-set data, Expression Media databases, a facebook page linked to our Twitter and Youtube accounts, an Exchange server for Outlook, three Dropbox accounts, a Yousendit account, our own ftp server, I'm on linked-in, Xing, vfxconnection, and I'm getting daily Google alerts on a dozen topics . It's exhausting.
But for some reason I still have the feeling I'm not getting the information I actually WANT or NEED.