Reducing Information Pollution


Information Overload and Mindfulness

March 5, 2018 | Posted By Nathan Zeldes

When I started working on mitigating Information Overload at Intel, back in the mid-90s, it was all about email overload, and the solutions we worked on then were all about how to send less and better email, sort and process incoming email faster and more sensibly, and – once we figured out the underlying cultural causes – improving norms and expectations within the organization. Nobody even considered Mindfulness then…

But recent years have seen a rapid change in the public’s awareness of Mindfulness in general, and this is fast moving into the info overload space. Just Google “Information overload and mindfulness”! People are realizing that mindfulness and meditation techniques are useful components in the battle on the hijacking of our focus and attention by the incessant incursion of messages and social media. It’s a good trend, and I recommend you pay attention to it.

Three friends of IORG are particularly active in this matter:

  • IBM’s Lele Terenzani, a.k.a. “Dr. Connections”, runs a very enjoyable Webcast series called “The present show”, dedicated to communications and mindfulness.
  • Lawrence Ampofo has a Podcast series on his Digital Mindfulness site, where he interviews key thinkers in this area,
  • David Levy, a longtime crusader against the distractions decimating our ability to think, has now published “Mindful tech”, a book where he proposes actions and exercises to develop a more mindful attitude to our technology.


Artificial Intelligence, Information Overload, and the Library of the Future

February 22, 2018 | Posted By Nathan Zeldes

Recently I was invited to give a keynote lecture at the XV International Conference on University Libraries in Mexico City last month. The conference was dedicated to the changing role of university libraries, and their place in the United Nations’ “Agenda 2030” program. My lecture, titled “Libraries and Knowledge in the Age of Information Overload”, took a close look at the impact of today’s pervasive state of Information Overload on the academic library, and vice versa.

Preparing this lecture was a fascinating experience for me, as was the knowledge exchange at the conference. Libraries, after all, had served as key vehicles for the dissemination of knowledge since ancient times, yet today far more knowledge than we could ever process is available online. Who needs libraries, then?

The conclusions I reached are that libraries will definitely retain their relevance, but their role is already changing. Rather than maximize access to information, they need to help their users filter knowledge, weeding out the fake and the irrelevant and helping them apply the latest techniques – including those enabled by computer science – to home in on what they really need. And amusingly, one reason students and faculty flock to their university library is to seek refuge from information overload – even when the information is accessible from the outside, the library provides a haven from distractions that is very precious.

You can read my report about all this in an article I published, accessible here.

Doing email in meetings: an ancient cautionary tale

February 15, 2018 | Posted By Nathan Zeldes

We can learn a lot from history… even in the field of Information Overload and Meeting Culture.

Consider this true story, quoted as is from Plutarch, about a spicy event in the senate of ancient Rome:

It is said also that when the great conspiracy of Catiline, which came near overthrowing the city, had come to the ears of the senate, Cato and Caesar, who were of different opinions about the matter, were standing side by side, and just then a little note was handed to Caesar from outside, which he read quietly. But Cato cried out that Caesar was outrageously receiving letters of instruction from the enemy. At this, a great tumult arose, and Caesar gave the missive, just as it was, to Cato. Cato found, when he read it, that it was a wanton bit of writing from his sister Servilia, and throwing it to Caesar with the words “Take it, thou sot,” turned again to the business under discussion. So notorious was Servilia’s passion for Caesar.

Let’s recast this in modern terms: two senior leaders are engaged in an important discussion in parliament, the legendary Julius Caesar and his enemy Cato (the younger). Caesar is distracted by an incoming message, and tries to process it while engaging in the meeting – tries, in fact , to Multitask. This not only interferes with his concentration; it leads to a disruption of the entire meeting – and to a rather comical if embarrassing outcome when the message turns out to be a love letter from his mistress. That the mistress was Cato’s sister Servilia (the mother of Brutus) just makes it more hilarious.

The lesson is far from funny, though: in meetings across the planet today attendees sit with a glassy stare fixed on their notebook or smartphone screens, and the impact on the meeting’s effectiveness is extremely harmful. Take note!

IORG Social Media presence is being upgraded

February 8, 2018 | Posted By Nathan Zeldes

The Information Overload Research Group’s steering committee has identified social media as a key component of the group’s activity, and has made decisions accordingly. Starting this February, IORG will maintain a much higher level of activity on all its social channels.

This includes the following channels, which you are invited and encouraged to join, follow, and so forth:

  • The IORG Web site (blog) [].
  • The Information Overload Resource Center (IORC) [Link].
  • Twitter [@EndInfoOverload].
  • The LinkedIn Group “Information Overload Research Group” [Link].
  • The IORG Newsletter [subscribe here].
  • The IORG YouTube channel [Link].

All this is for you – and with you. We look forward to your comments, retweets, and contributions!

New LinkedIn Group presence for IORG

February 1, 2018 | Posted By Nathan Zeldes

Effective January 2018 the LinkedIn group Information Overload Network has been renamed to Information Overload Research Group. This reflects the de facto situation where ION has been nurtured for the last few years by the directors of the off-LinkedIn IORG non-profit, and will allow us to focus the people and activities related to Information Overload mitigation under one coherent “umbrella”.

You are all welcome to join the group, which will continue in its activity to share and promote knowledge about information overload and its mitigation.

Overloaded 2017 – Webinar Replay now Available !

October 20, 2017 | Posted By einstem

IORG, in celebration of Information Overload Day, recently hosted “Overloaded 2017 – An online event of Science, Stories, and Solutions for Managing Information Overload.

The entire event has been recorded for your viewing pleasure! Enjoy!

Here is a list of the presenters:

  • Jonathan Spira – IORG Director and IO author and researcher.
    “What are your pain points with Information Overload?”
  • Nathan Zeldes – IORG president and global productivity expert.
    “Welcome to Overloaded 2017″
  • Steuart Snooks –  Email author, speaker and consultant.
    “Three Strategies for Managing Overload”
  • Dr. Lawrence Ampofo – Digital strategist and consultant.
    “Corporate Digital Responsiblity in the age of Information Overload”
  • Marc Powell – Emailogic – Email and Productivity Training.
    “Audience Discussion via ZOOM Chat”
  • Haim Senior – Knowmail – CEO
    “Personalized fix Information Overload at Work”
  • Lele Terenzani – IBM
    “Time for doing some live IO evangelism”
  • Dan Calista – Vynamic – CEO and Founder
    & Erica Keswin
     – Founder, Spaghetti Project
    “A fireside chat with Dan Calista” – Interview by Erica
  • Dr. Monica Seeley – Mesmo Consultancy – Email Expert
    “Conclusion: What have we learned?”
  • Jonathan Spira – IORG Director and IO author and researcher.
    “Wrap-Up and Thank You!”

older posts »

What's New

Information Overload and Mindfulness
Mar. 5, 2018

When I started working on mitigating Information Overload at Intel, back in the mid-90s, it was all about email overload, and the solutions we worked on then were all about how to send less and better email, sort and process incoming email faster and more sensibly, and – once we figured out the underlying cultural […]

News Archive
Check Out the Resource Center:

Our Resource Center is a crowd-sourced, moderated repository of links to IO resources of every kind. Please check it out, use what you need and contribute additional resources.

Resource Center

Our Resource Center is a
useful repository of research abstracts as well as links to a broad range of IO information
on the web. Learn More

Our Sponsors

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On LinkedinVisit Us On Youtube