The brain handles information overload by filtering and chunking the data that streams in from sense organs. Every moment of your life, megabytes of data are streaming into your brain. The data arrives to inform your sense of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, balance, and proprioception. Just one human eye delivers 10 million bits of data per second. (more…)
In a matter of a few months, I’ve gone from being an obsessively micro-managing perfectionist entrepreneur who reserved even the most minuscule tasks for himself, to someone who gets assistance on an almost daily basis from no fewer than fourteen outside sources, from New Delhi to New York.
They say the soul weighs 21 grams, and now we have a measurement of the American mind on any given day: 34 gigabytes. According to a University of California, San Diego, study highlighted by The New York Times, the average American consumes 34 GB worth of content a day, including a whopping 100,000 words of information.
The report clarifies that we don’t necessarily parse a full 100,000 words per day, but that that rather astounding figure does cross our eyes and ears each 24-hour interval via multiple channels: the Web, TV, text messaging, radio, video games and more. (more…)
Although computer ubiquity is generally perceived in a positive light giving students continual access to the global community, there are some disadvantages that our Digital Native generation experiences. If DNs are continually surrounded by gadgets and computers how are they going to learn the importance of reflecting on issues? How will they learn to look for information anywhere beyond regular search engines like Google? (ie: libraries, interviewing others, etc.)
If you just skim the headlines, it seems like we might be screwed: “Social websites harm children’s brains: Chilling warnings to parents from top neuroscientist,” “Facebook and Bebo risk ‘infantilising the human mind: Greenfield warns social networking sites are changing children’s brains, resulting in selfish and attention deficient young people,” “Oxford Scientist: Facebook Might Ruin Minds” or going straight for the punch, “Is Social Networking Killing You?” (more…)
I hope everyone agrees that attention is a scarce good. But I’m curious how people measure it. After all, if we’re going to talk about an economic good being scarce, we ought to quantify it!
A question asked at the 2009 ACEM Winter Symposium following our presentation on ‘The Web 2.0 Rollercoaster’ was: How can emergency physicians deal with information overload?
Fear of information overload is a barrier preventing doctors from using web resources. But, given that humanity has been experiencing information overload since the invention of the Gutenberg press, ignoring web resources to avoid confronting this daunting problem is a maladaptive, self-defeating strategy. Here are some ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ pointers to help ‘Web 2.0 laggards’ pull their heads out of the ground and off-load the stress of information overload.
How much information or how many messages are we hit with today?
It’s too much, how can we make sense of it all and find what we are looking for? Not many people have the time to sift through and entire copy of the New York Times each day; at best we can look through it to see what is important to our lives, careers, families or what interests us.
Email Overload had originally (that is, in the mid-1990s when the problem erupted) involved the existence of too much incoming mail. There were just too many messages arriving in the Inbox and needing to be processed. The metaphor I liked to use was of snowfall: the flakes keep coming down, and unless you shovel the accumulated layer away your driveway will be buried. What you had to do was set times to do the shoveling, and learn to do it faster.
Here’s a story from the early nineties, a time when much information in the workplace was stored and moved on sheets of mashed tree pulp.
Back then I was doing research into Artificial Neural Networks, and my coworkers at Intel got into the habit of mailing me (in an inter-office envelope) a copy of any article on the subject that they came across. And I got into the habit of piling the articles at the corner of my desk, so that I might read them one day when I had the time. After all, they were articles in my field of interest, so it made sense that I should read them and become wiser.