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IORG News and Announcements

“Managing Overflow” conference coming up in Warsaw in September!

When organisations think about “overload”, the context of “information overload” is the first thing that usually gets most attention. Managing flood of emails is the most prominent example, and many interesting solutions have been proposed to deal with it. Interesting, but can any single solution be considered a definitive one? And, can we limit the problem of “overload” only to the digital domain? I will argue that the issue is much wider, and thus we can talk about “overflow”, covering both digital and traditional – analog domains. We say “information overload”, but when we get to practical examples, we suddenly switch to discussing “flood of information”, “flood of email messages” etc. That’s why OVERFLOW is considered by some a better keyword than OVERLOAD.

“Overflow (also referred to as surplus, excess or overspill) is seen as the explicit opposite of scarcity. It is a concept used in economic theory, management, consumer studies and politics, though these disciplines have different interpretations of what really constitutes overflow”
eLife 2015;4:e10825. [Link]

Overflow is surplus, and Poland (where I’m based) is a unique location to discuss it. The country underwent a profound change, from the socialist economy of excessive demand and rather limited supply, to a typical for western countries economy of excessive supply and severe competition for customers’ attention.

For any person, a wide zone of acceptance for available choices was a highly adaptive trait in the old economy, but nowadays can be a source of frustration, with an abundance of choices around us – choices of all kinds: shopping, educational, social. What should I choose, if I like all available options? On the other hand, those who have a very narrow range of acceptance for available choices had suffered in the socialist economy, but are likely to be thriving now – being “picky” protects them from the abundance of available choices.

That’s why the problem of “overflow” is not a simple, linear issue of environmental abundance, of a flood of digital, easily multiplicable information, but instead needs to be analysed on a finer level, taking into account interaction of external, environmental conditions and personal traits. This area of research, pursued for many years by one of the keynote presenters, prof. Grażyna Wieczorkowska-Wierzbińska, will be highlighted at the “Managing Overflow” conference, organized in September this year by our team from the Department of Managerial Psychology and Sociology at the University of Warsaw (http://overflowconference.pl). The event will gather in Poland a group of top scientists researching the topic of overflow: prof. Barbara Czarniawska, prof. Orvar Lofgren, Sabina Siebert, prof. Wieczorkowska-Wierzbińska, and others.

Grzegorz Krol, PhD
Department of Managerial Psychology and Sociology
Faculty of Management
University of Warsaw

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Information Overload Resource Center is available!

A new repository of articles and research related to Information Overload is now available at Information Overload Resource Center. The web site was created by the Information Overload Research Group—a nonprofit organization founded in 2008 to facilitate and share solutions to the growing information glut.

You are welcome to add pointers to IO related resources. Go to the above URL, register and submit your share to this communal work in progress! (more…)

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The Wave that Overwhelms

The New York Post recently cited IORG in an insightful article about information overload and a sidebar focused on fixing the problem.

In “Going Under: Information overload is drowning office workers,” author Chris Erikson paints an accurate picture of the typical information worker who’s being “interrupted and over-informed to death.”

Quoted within the article, IORG VP of Research Jonathan Spira noted, “If I had to paraphrase in one sentence what we hear in worker surveys, it’d be, ‘I’m drowning in a sea of information.’” IORG President Nathan Zeldes weighed in with the underwater metaphor, too, saying “The tidal wave of data is drowning us.” (more…)

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Fighting IO: a Sisyphean or a Herculean challenge?

I’ve been engaged in the battle on Information Overload since 1995, when it exploded across Intel – where I was Computing Productivity manager at the time – with the now familiar devastation to people’s effectiveness and quality of life. In the 15 years since then I’ve driven a variety of solution efforts at various companies; I’ve communicated with scores of like minded professionals fighting IO around the world, exchanging and developing new solutions; and I’ve had the pleasure of co-founding the Information Overload Research Group with some of them. With all this activity, and the introspection a new year calls for, the question comes to mind: are we winning or losing? (more…)

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More from IO summit in London

From Ian Price:

On Tuesday, I was invited to be part of the expert panel discussion that launched the three-day summit on Information Overload run by v3.co.uk (previously known us vnnunet).

Given the nature of the audience, the summit as a whole has a technical emphasis and is sponsored by IBM. Having said that, there was a willingness on the panel I took part in to discuss the behavioural issues as well. If you have an hour to spare, you can watch the discussion here.

There is a wealth of other video debates and articles on v3’s site which is particularly rich in technical aspects of information overload such as storage and data centres. A comment article by Ian Williams, however, is a good expression of the view – which I share – that this is more about management than anything else.

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Information Overload Summit in London

From Ian Price:

The issue of information overload is getting increasing media coverage in the UK although it is still some way behind the US.

Next week, V3.co.uk (formerly vnu.net), part of Incisive Media, is taking the lead by hosting a three-day summit. It is opening the event with a live web TV panel discussion on Tuesday November 10th at 11am. I will be on the panel along with representatives from other companies including IBM, The National Computing Centre and Freeform Dynamics.

If you would like to find out more about the event or register, please follow the link below:

http://mediazone.brighttalk.com/event/INCITWEEKCOMPUTING/29539ed932-3161-intro

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So what does IORG do?

When I tell friends and colleagues that I’m on the board of the Information Overload Research Group – “You know, that organization that got started on the Microsoft campus a couple of years ago” – they often say something like, “That sounds interesting.  So what does IORG do?” (more…)

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Information Overload – The Movie!

Our friends at Basex have been talking to people about Info Overload for a long time, but for some months now they had the excellent idea of capturing what senior managers had to say about it on video. The outcome is a video that interviews execs in companies including IBM, NBC, RIM, and Siemens, who share their insights about the impact of IO.

Best of all, the folks at Basex shared it – “Information Overload – The Movie” is available to us all on YouTube and on the Basex blog.

Via the Basex blog.
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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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WHAT WAS I WORKING ON AGAIN? AN OVERVIEW OF THE FIRST INFORMATION OVERLOAD CONFERENCE

Our Information Overload conference no doubt pushed attendees above and beyond the bounds of overload.  As a public service here (as Tom Lehrer would say), I’ll review highlights.

Keynote
The keynote address (mine, actually) presented an overview of the problem, including costs, problem areas, and a few things we can do about the problem right now. (more…)

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