Archive for September, 2011

Tribute to a favorite bookseller

Posted on September 29th, 2011 · Posted in Off-topic

My recent trip to the US was a pleasure, except for one shock: I went to the nearest Borders bookstore, and discovered the bookseller chain had closed forever the preceding week. I do favor small independent bookstores, and have been worried about their tendency to disappear under pressure of the larger chains; still, I had to admit that Borders had a pleasant aspect that provided a bookworm with a delightful experience. Seeing it go under – one can surmise, due to the pressure of Internet-based alternatives and other shifts in information consumption habits of the 21st century – was profoundly.. Read more

Cues for useless email?

Posted on September 28th, 2011 · Posted in Organizational Solutions

One of the slides in my Information Overload lecture analyzes the root causes of sending useless email, and goes into the very human motivators stemming from mistrust in many corporate cultures. One of these is CYA – sending mail, or copying too many people on it, to cover one’s backside. So in a recent lecture one of my audience, not being a native English speaker, raised her hand and asked what CYA meant. I translated it for her and explained how people might send mail to people who had no need for it merely to cover themselves from any objection… Read more

A sorely needed cellphone feature

Posted on September 21st, 2011 · Posted in Individual Solutions

A lecture attendee reacted to my data about the scary extent of disruption caused by endlessly ringing cellphones by saying: “I keep my cellphone turned on only in case my child calls – I wish it would only ring for him!” Now, here is a feature that is painfully needed, and obviously useful: Allow the user to specify which callers the phone will ring for, and which it will not, when you put it into a “Silent” mode. Or use “vibrate” as part of the equation: Ring for calls from an emergency-prone dependent, vibrate for close family and coworkers, let.. Read more

How ignorance can lead to Information Overload

Posted on September 13th, 2011 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

I was discussing Email Overload with a friend of mine who is a veteran manager at an international hi-tech company, and he made an interesting observation. His company, he said, is large enough that many email senders have no idea who should be copied on their messages; they can’t be sure who “needs to know”, so they just CC everyone who is remotely likely to be involved. Basically, they are replacing “Need to Know” with “Might possibly need to know”. Of course, although these folks think “better safe than sorry”, they should be very sorry – the recipients that don’t.. Read more

The innocence of youth

Posted on September 4th, 2011 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion

I was having coffee with a colleague I go back a long way with, and he told me of his first encounter with email. He had just joined Intel (in Israel) in 1988, and his boss showed him his new cubicle, his desk, and his computer, on which he demonstrated the email application. My friend came from a workplace where there was no such thing, and the following conversation ensued, more or less: My friend: What is this for? His boss: well, if you want to write something to someone, you write it in this window, add the person’s name.. Read more