information overload – infocamp session

October 14, 2007 at 4:12 pm (1) ()

Information overload is a problem in a lot of work situations, where people are being overwhelmed with various communications that inhibit their ability to perform the normal functions of their jobs because they’re spending too much time answering emails, etc.  Every interruption of a project takes up time, and then more time to recover and get back into the creative mode.  It’s an issue that many people are aware of, and there is lots of talk about how bad it is, but not a lot of solutions out there

One way to approach this problem is to look at ways to increase the quality of the time spent interacting with information.  There’s lots of noise out there, lots of irrelevant communications that are coming in.  You have to filter through the irrelevant communications to get to the real human interactions, and the communications that are relevant to the moment.

things that cause information overload: IM, email, tv, blogs, clutter, etc.

solutions? Set times to perform certain tasks, be avilable for IM, etc.

solutions? email solutions – batching, shut down times, RSS feeds for company “allstaff” type information. Semantic email – tagging emails, so recipient can determine use and importance, develop a work vocabulary for tagging emails that have to do with specific projects, so filters can parse emails into folders that you get when you start working on that project.

solutions – easy on off notifications, auto-responses, pre-agreed times for email within organizations, updates in aggregators, generate advertising that eliminates information clutter

IM away messages – “working”

intuitive systems for tracking time spent on doing different things – “Harvest” is an app that tracks time spent like that. has a firefox app to track time spent on various places

One nice solution, heavily dependent on ones own ability to discipline oneself:

Decide right away to a) produce or b)consume – pursue that mode for the day, or chunk of time.

be careful of tools that take more time to use than the task would have taken otherwise.

Nice session, with some interesting ideas – I don’t feel particularly overloaded most of the time at work, but i know it can be an issue, and there are people within my organization that feel this strain more than others, for sure.


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