Wow. We publicly launched the Information Overload Research Group yesterday, thanks to Matt Richtel’s NYC article Lost in E-Mail, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast (which was originally titled Creators of E-Mail Monster Now Try to Tame It – not sure which one I like better). The article is currently at the top of the NYT most-emailed tech stories list, high on Techmeme, and is being blogged about all over the place. It’s really great to see this much interest and excitement about information overload and IORG. A lot of smart folks have given their perspective on information overload and Matt’s story. Here’s a wrapup of a number of the blog posts:
Merlin Mann asks the question “What does a company get out of its employees spending half their day using an email program?” and provides his perspective on using email as a tool.
Beth Kanter suggests that we "Turn Off the Damn Email Software and Get Some Work Done (Or go for a walk)!" and shares a number of tips and links to numerous articles and resources on information overload.
Tony Wright worries that "the increasingly personalized infoporn delivered to us through a
broadening array of channels (like RSS, alerts, Twitter, Digg, Email,
IM, Social Networks and more) is a looming disaster."
Paul Mooney points to "Meetings about meetings, emails about phone calls, efficiency tools and
methodologies that nobody can figure out, it’s no wonder burnout is so
prevalent." as a root cause.
Henry Blodget keys in on the claim that "American workers waste $650 billion a year checking email too often."
TJ Kirchner acknowledges the problem, but cautions that companies shouldn’t "use this to
implement really stupid rules and codes of conduct that will only
reduce company moral[e]."
There were also some very good alternate perspectives/counterpoints to the article:
Stowe Boyd posts a lengthy and very insightful rebuttal/counterpoint to a number of the points raised in the NYT piece and much of the conventional wisdom around information overload. "The old school thinking is about individual productivity: but the
social revolution has moved past that into network productivity, which
entails connectedness and social meaning. The personal hit on
productivity is real, but it’s not a cost: it’s an investment; and the
juice is worth the squeeze." I think Stowe brings up a lot of very interesting and valid points that remind us that there are many moving parts in play here and the best solutions are not necessarily the most obvious ones.
asks "Is Digital Productivity Dead?" and "is today’s knowledge worker
unproductive or do knowledge workers operate differently?"
And on a related note:
Nathan Zeldes shares his observations and provides a detailed update of results from the "Quiet Time" and "No Email Day" experiments at Intel.
That should be plenty to overload you with information about information overload!