Information Overload

All about Information Overload

Good and Bad Multitasking?

I was looking at the interesting web site of Canadian SciFi author Robert J. Sawyer and found an article in which he discusses Multitasking, and views it quite positively. In fact he says “The complaints about multitasking are the last gasps of the couch-potato generation” – the new, “wired” generation will practice multitasking to great advantage. (more…)

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Interesting idea from IBM

A friend pointed out an interesting patent application from IBM. The proposed system allows one to send people a calendar meeting invite that specifies no distractions are allowed during the meeting (an “exclusive attendance event”); after the attendee accepts, their computer will automatically suspend non-event related activities while the meeting is in progress. There are some additional refinements, but basically this is a computerized implementation of the seldom heard “everyone, close your Notebooks” at the start of a meeting. (more…)

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Calculating Information Overload – Find Out Your Organization’s Cost

A year ago, Basex announced that Information Overload would be the 2008 “Problem-of-the-Year.”  Now that we know that Information Overload costs the U.S. economy a minimum of $900 billion per year, it appears that it will be 2009’s problem as well.

Whether sitting at a desk in the office, in a conference room, in one’s home office, or at a client, the likelihood of being able to complete a task (what many call “work”) without interruption is nil.  Content creation has gone off the charts and new forms of content are being pushed towards us at an ever increasing pace.  It’s not just e-mail, junk mail, text messages, phone calls, and monthly reports anymore. (more…)

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Is RSS part of the problem or part of the solution?

In the beginning there was Email Overload. Then RSS feeds arrived on the scene, and at first they looked like an interesting alternative to email as a way for getting information to people. They had that “pull mode” aspect – you could subscribe only to feeds you needed, unlike email that gets pushed at you by other people. Of course email was still necessary for one on one communication, but RSS could replace the “blast” email newsletters and such one to many comms. (more…)

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IO in a call center environment

By IORG member Nitin Badjatia

While we often think of the productivity loss of information overload from an individual perspective, aggregating the impact of lost productivity across a large group can lead to some astounding realizations.  An example of this in the call center environment.  Over the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing and observing process flows in dozens of customer service call centers across North America.  (more…)

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The awareness problem

The other day I gave a lecture about Information Overload at a technology conference. Afterward a number of attendees approached me to discuss it. I asked one of them – himself employed at a technology company – whether the extent of the problem in his workplace was as bad as I described it in general, and he asserted that it certainly was; no surprise there. But then he remarked that although he lives with the problem every day, my lecture was the first time he gave thought to this matter from this interesting and different angle… he was referring to the manifold aspects of the impact on knowledge worker  productivity, such as the longer time to execute tasks or the reduction in creativity engendered by constant interruptions. (more…)

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The breakdown of the nation’s financial industry plus recent events in financial markets worldwide have made me wonder about the role of information overload in the current financial crisis.  Headlines have made it painfully clear that financial institutions were unsure of their assets and liabilities.  Usually, this would be attributed to an inadequacy of available information but that’s far from the case here. (more…)

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The power of hotel rooms…

An observation: most of my best ideas come to me during business trips. Ideas that then lead to major projects or products, ideas that are worth a lot – they tend to materialize in a plane, or behind the wheel of a rental car, or in a hotel room far from home. In fact, this is not just me – I hear similar stories from many other knowledge workers and managers. (more…)

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Lots going on in the information overload world

IORG isn’t the only group of people interested in the problem of information overload.  Here’s a glimpse at some of the other stuff going on in the IO world.

On the academic side, a workshop on enhanced messaging was held at AAAI 2008 with a bunch of interesting presentations.  In the media, there have been a flurry of articles revolving around the problem of information overload that I’ve been informally collecting on this FriendFeed page (where anyone is welcome to submit links and comments).

We’re working on an updated and upgraded version of our IORG resource center to collect links to research papers, articles, and much more information around IO.  And the business world is starting to take notice as well, with industry conferences like Defrag springing up to address IO topics (full disclosure – I’m speaking at Defrag and know the organizers).

It’s great to see so much activity around this problem!

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Info Overload – a view from the political summit

An interesting article in the BBC News magazine recently afforded us a rare glimpse into the problem as seen from the perspective of two politicians – no less than Barack Obama and British opposition leader David Cameron.

Personally I always thought that senior leaders of nations have licked Information Overload. After all, one can’t imagine that the President of the United States slaves for hours each day over a flooded email inbox… he must have a dozen aides summarizing the news and distilling for their chief a beautifully short list of what he really needs to know… (more…)

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