Reducing Information Pollution
And now we hear of a study done in the US that links the alarming rise in teenage suicide and depression (we’re talking doubling rates between 2007 and 2015, for girls) – and the rise in Smartphone and social media use in the same period. Gen Z kids spend hours and hours on their smartphones – connected but physically alone.
Evolution never planned for such a change to happen in less than a generation’s time. The outcome shows up in the research data: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on non-screen activities are more likely to be happy.
Our findings show that some patterns of email use are associated with lower perceived productivity and higher stress. The longer daily duration spent on email, the lower the assessed productivity and the higher the stress. With high email use, people who chose when to self-interrupt to deal with email, and “Batchers”, people who cluster email use, assessed their productivity higher at the end of the day compared to those who check email triggered by email notifications, and to those who check email consistently. To our knowledge, our study is the first in situ multi-method investigation of email activity, workplace outcomes and stress. Our results lay ground for future theoretical exploration of these effects, and provide valuable practical lessons for organizations and knowledge workers.
People are exposed to different streams of information every day: emails, news, and social media feeds are just some of them. This happens so often, we rarely realize the toll information overload takes on us.
In a 2009 article on Harvard Business Review, Paul Hemp estimated that the US economy loses around $900 billion annually due to workers being overwhelmed by information, leading to less productivity.
Review of the book “The slow professor” by Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber.
In their new book, The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy – fittingly, with a snail on the cover – Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber apply the principles of the “slow” movement to academia. Proudly proclaiming themselves “slow professors,” the authors offer insights on how to manage teaching, research and collegiality in an era when more professors feel “beleaguered, managed, frantic, stressed and demoralized” as they juggle the increasingly complex expectations of students, the administration, colleagues – and themselves.
The UA has created a Center for Digital Society and Data Studies to address some of the major challenges and disciplinary divides that data have introduced.
With the digital age emerging at an increasingly fast speed, issues with digitizing technology, data capabilities and social media technologies are now being addressed with a new center. Catherine Brooks, director for the center, said the UA is already doing this sort of work. “The School of Information at the university is already an interdisciplinary place where thinkers, programmers and scientists explore and address today’s big questions and problems relative to information, analytic tools and today’s societal issues,” Brooks said.
Phyllis Moen, a sociologist who was widowed when her two children were young, has made a career studying the challenges of working full time while raising a family. She was an early voice calling for the government to provide paid maternity leave and offer benefits for part-time workers, but eventually, when she saw no signs of progress, she began considering instead the ways that corporations could reconfigure work to address the realities of the modern employee, who was more likely than ever to be a single parent or part of a dual-income couple.
I believe that businesses should be ‘data-driven,’ however, I would argue that information overload is a threat to effective leadership. You can have too much of a good thing, and data is no exception. I can’t use the overwhelming majority of data reports that land in my inbox. Moreover, distinguishing between data and “data” – the sales pitch masquerading as research – has saved me from hours of wasted time and distractions. Twenty years ago, businesspeople soaked up data because it was rare and precious. At most, we received a quarterly report on company performance. Data is now a daily tidal wave, but this came about gradually. Just as fish don’t realize they’re in water, we might not realize that we’re drowning in information.
The world is connected as never before. With so much information on your fingertips, is it healthy to continue it as it is?
Maybe, or maybe not. But scientists feel that it can leave us stressed and exhausted.
A study by ESRI U.K. discovered that a third of the people surveyed believe that they are being overwhelmed by “data overload” and are stressed out due to their inability to process the information.
It has never been as easy to get information about anything as it is today. Answers to all questions are just a click away. Technology helps us check spellings and meanings of new words, calculate logarithmic problems, answers questions related to astrophysics, molecular biology, shopping, catch a cab, even finding out the best restaurant to eat in your city… the list is endless. And it can all be done over your mobile phone or laptop.
UK customers have become overwhelmed by the vast amount of content being thrown at them on a daily basis, according to research from Esri UK.