Reducing Information Pollution
In a nutshell: I’ve been working on Email Overload at Intel since 1995, when I realized that this problem is not only a major productivity killer, but is also making countless people miserable; something had to be done! Since then I’ve developed a variety of organization-wide remedial programs, first for Email Overload and later also for Interruptions. Some of these I shared external to Intel, which formed the connections that later led to my co-founding the IORG with Mary Czerwinski and Sheizaf Rafaeli. At present I continue to drive this subject in my new career as an independent technology consultant.
More detail: A physicist by education, I joined Intel as an engineer in device fabrication Q&R, but I’ve gravitated towards IT, becoming Computing Productivity manager in 1994 and later appointed an IT Principal Engineer focusing on Knowledge Worker effectiveness. In this role my challenge has been to initiate and develop solutions in the domain straddling the border between human behavior and computing technology, in order to make Intel’s employees more effective while enabling them to balance their work and their life more harmoniously. My involvement in Email Overload started in 1995 when I realized that the newly deployed PC-based email systems were creating a huge overload issue, resulting in ineffectiveness and stress. I started to develop solutions to this problem, including software add-ons, skill training, and management-led behavior change campaigns.
Being a passionate believer in sharing and cooperating across organizational boundaries, I then communicated with many like-minded researchers and industry practitioners worldwide, and the resultant collaborations culminated in the creation of IORG.
In recent years my attention has shifted from Email alone to its combination with Interruptions and Distractions – sometimes dubbed Infomania – which I believe to be the worst destroyer of knowledge worker effectiveness and quality of life; see this paper I co-authored for the proof points and some of my thoughts on the subject. My goal, therefore, is to cooperate with other professionals to do whatever we can to eliminate or mitigate this problem: it’s not only good for business, it is also a moral imperative. People should spend their days on effective work, allowing them to devote their evenings to their children, not their blackberries!
In 2008 I decided that 26 years in one company is more than enough, and I took the plunge to become an independent consultant to organizations and technology start-ups, always focusing on the intersection of computers, technology and human behavior.
I hold an MSc in Applied Physics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, where I and my wife live. My hobbies include recreational computer programming, collecting artifacts from the history of computing, and reading; some of which I share at http://www.nzeldes.com/possiblyinteresting.htm
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