Reducing Information Pollution

The Wave that Overwhelms

March 24, 2011 | Posted By Margaret McDonald

The New York Post recently cited IORG in an insightful article about information overload and a sidebar focused on fixing the problem. In “Going Under: Information overload is drowning office workers,” author Chris Erikson paints an accurate picture of the typical information worker who’s being “interrupted and over-informed to death.”

Quoted within the article, IORG VP of Research Jonathan Spira noted, “If I had to paraphrase in one sentence what we hear in worker surveys, it’d be, ‘I’m drowning in a sea of information.’” IORG President Nathan Zeldes weighed in with the underwater metaphor, too, saying “The tidal wave of data is drowning us.”

It’s no wonder that people think in terms of an oceanic deluge when they talk about information overload. It knocks us off our feet and leaves us feeling out of our element. It makes us expend extra energy just to move forward. And there’s no way to ignore the new environment that surrounds us.

But even while the problem is washing over us, the answers are down to earth.

As Erikson reports in his side story, “Cut the Glut,” we each have a role in battling information overload for ourselves, our co-workers, our partners and others. And because we’re each contributing the flood of information ourselves, our first step is to turn off the faucet.

How would you describe the effect of information overload in your day-to-day work?

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2 Responses

  1. Margaret McDonald Says:
    March 30th, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Perhaps email is a repetitive stress injury.

  2. Nathan Zeldes Says:
    March 30th, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Here’s another metaphor I use: if a coworker came into your office every day and punched you in the nose, you’d probably take some action after a few times… but if a coworker sends you unnecessary email every day, which can be just as harmful, it’s a safe bet that you do nothing…

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