Reducing Information Pollution
Does the endless stream of articles telling you of new and alarming risks to your health have you feeling anxious? Consider just a few of the latest: Common pain relievers raise your risk for heart attacks. Sitting too much can make you more likely to develop cancer. Drinking even one soda per day boosts your chance of diabetes.
He calls it one of the bright spots of his week: Before Jared Dalton, 32, starts his workday as a manager at Ernst & Young, the big accounting firm, he dresses his 5-month-old daughter, Olivia, and then places her on her tummy to play. Since he works from home on Mondays and Tuesdays, he can spend an extra hour with Olivia and an extra hour working — time that would otherwise be lost commuting into Manhattan.
MADRID — Dipping into a bucket filled with Mahou beers, Jorge Rodríguez and his friends hunkered down on a recent Wednesday night to watch soccer at Mesón Viña, a local bar. At a nearby table a couple were cuddling, oblivious to others, as a waitress brought out potato omelets and other dinner orders. Then the game began. At 10 p.m., which is not unusual. Even as people in some countries are preparing for bed, the Spanish evening is usually beginning at 10, with dinner often being served and prime-time television shows starting (and not ending until after 1 a.m.). Surveys show that nearly a quarter of Spain’s population is watching television between midnight and 1 a.m.
Advances in information technology and the proliferation of open networks are having a profound impact on the world, ranging from transforming communication and commercial marketing practices to enabling political change.
For all the benefits of the information technology and communications revolution, it has a well-known dark side: information overload and its close cousin, attention fragmentation.
These scourges hit CEOs and their colleagues in the C-suite particularly hard because senior executives so badly need uninterrupted time to synthesize information from many different sources, reflect on its implications for the organization, apply judgment, make trade-offs, and arrive at good decisions.
In “Information Overload: Causes, Symptoms and Solutions,” an article for the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Learning Innovations Laboratory (LILA), Joseph Ruff says that we are bombarded with so much data that we’re on information overload. Simply put, information overload is when our ability to process information has passed its limit, and further attempts to process information or make accurate decisions from the surplus of information leads to information overload.
E-mail is one of the most successful computer applications ever developed. Despite its success, it is now dogged by numerous problems. Users complain about feeling overwhelmed by the volume of messages they receive, they have difficulties too in organizing and managing their e-mail data but, most importantly, they have problems in using e-mail to manage collaborative tasks. These require extended interaction with others for their definition and execution. As a result, users are often concurrently working on multiple outstanding tasks as they await responses from others concerning these tasks. This requires users to (a) create reminders, (b) identify messages that relate to the same task, and (c) combine information from these related messages. Read more…
Magazine Article “Death by Information Overload”
The research program at IBM’s® Collaborative User Experience (CUE) group supports an e-mail system used by millions of people. We present three lessons learned from working with real-world enterprise e-mail solutions. Read more…
A while back I wrote about our “First Generation” solutions to Infomania: those based on training people to adopt voluntary behavior change. And I told you that our experience is that their effect always lasts a year or two and then diminishes as people come and go and memories fade; then you re-launch the training to gain another year, and so on… Admittedly these programs are inexpensive to run, so this is acceptable; still, last year I finally got tired of this repetition and decided to try and devise something completely different – solutions that would be less voluntary and more aggressive in stopping the barrage of email and interruptions.
These are now being developed for deployment later this year.