Archive for the 'Impact and Symptoms' Category

What Can We Do About our Teens’ Smartphone Addiction?

Posted on December 30th, 2017 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Impact and Symptoms

An interesting audience question I had just finished delivering my lecture on Information Overload at a hi-tech company and was taking comments from the usual group of attendees that approach me after everyone else has left – these are usually the best comments, since they come from people interested enough to stay and wait their turn. And this time I had a surprise. A man asked me whether I give such lectures in schools, targeting kids in their mid to late teens. These are the members of Generation Z (what will we do next, one wonders, now that we’ve run.. Read more

One Thing at a Time: Debunking Multitasking

Posted on October 17th, 2017 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Impact and Symptoms, Individual Solutions

Dinotopia is one of the lovelier literary utopias out there. Introduced as a lavishly illustrated book by James Gurney, and later made into a TV miniseries, it tells of a fictional island where intelligent dinosaurs and humans coexist and collaborate in a peaceful society; the absurdity of the premise is offset by Gurney’s magnificent illustrations. And although this blog seldom deals with dinosaurs, real or fictional, there is a point in the book that is relevant here. The code of Dinotopia The citizens of Dinotopia obey the ancient “Code of Dinotopia”, which consists of 11 short commandments, such as “Give.. Read more

Broken Communication Across the Generation Gap

Posted on May 25th, 2017 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Impact and Symptoms

Fathers and Sons I was talking to a veteran manager and he told me an anecdote that caught my interest. This man had a son that had a room in the upstairs floor of the family house. One day the son told him he was sending him a web link of interest; the link failed to arrive. The father asked for a resend, which the son promptly effected; yet still no link was received. Finally my friend asked what email address the kid was sending it to – and the son, surprised, said “Skype!”… A growing communication gap What was.. Read more

Email, Digital Photography, and the Hole in our Historical Record

Posted on April 30th, 2017 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Impact and Symptoms

Letters from the past One fine day in the 20th century BCE Ilabrat-bani, an Assyrian merchant from Kültepe in Anatolia, wrote to one Amur-ili a letter concerning shipments of textiles, and providing advice for travel. The letter, written in cuneiform on a clay tablet, survived to reach present day historians and inform their research. On June 8th of 1511 Piero Venier, a merchant living in Sicily, penned a letter to his sisters in Venice. It contained his observations from an Auto de Fe he’d witnessed in Palermo, where the Spanish Inquisition burned at the stake conversos suspected of heresy amid.. Read more

Should We Reintroduce Computer-free Activity into the Workplace?

Here is a strange idea: reduce the use of computers in the workplace. Huhh?!?… Bear with me and read on… Computers and Stress Back in the nineties management at my Intel campus realized that non-stop computer use was causing health damage in the form of RSI (repetitive stress injuries – remember all those weird wrist bandages?). To address it, we implemented structured “stretching sessions” where everyone stopped typing and came together to do directed exercises with music and fun. Today we see that non-stop computer use is causing health damage in other forms – and it may be time to.. Read more

The conflict between being productive and being available

Posted on October 11th, 2015 · Posted in Impact and Symptoms

The conflict In my business of helping companies solve information overload,  I get to interview many managers and employees about their communication habits. This brings to light interesting observations. I was talking to an employee in a hi-tech company and he raised a problem: he was actually quite self-aware about the importance of focusing on his work without the extreme productivity hit of interruptions, so he kept his cellphone in silent mode. Smart move! Smart move? Not necessarily. It threw him into the heart of a conflict many knowledge workers grapple with. You see, his peers and his supervisor would.. Read more

Mixed Blessings of Technology: Insights From a Family Physician

Posted on February 17th, 2015 · Posted in Impact and Symptoms

Given my focus on mitigating Information Overload, I often discuss it with people I meet in other contexts; many interesting insights usually result. Especially interesting are discussions with those people who are responsible for executing literally life-saving jobs under extreme pressure: medical practitioners. I was visiting a family doctor and raised the subject. This doctor had a computer on her desk, where she was required by the HMO she works for to type in details of everything she did, from patients’ complaints to diagnoses to prescriptions. What’s more, this was a progressive HMO and it allowed patients to communicate with.. Read more

The Other Digital Divide – Where the Rich Lose!

Posted on July 23rd, 2014 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Impact and Symptoms

The Digital Divide Wikipedia defines the digital divide as “an economic and social inequality according to categories of persons in a given population in their access to, use of, or knowledge of information and communication technologies (ICT)”. The idea is usually that people in lower socioeconomic circumstances have less access to the bounty of computing, and especially the Internet, than richer folks. This, of course, further limits their ability to succeed in life, deepening the inequalities that are so harmful to society. This divide between “Haves” and “Have-nots” is widely recognized; and yet I note an additional, different digital divide.. Read more

Oh, the Horror: What if You Miss an Important Message?!

Posted on June 6th, 2014 · Posted in Analysis and Opinion, Impact and Symptoms

In a world where knowledge workers may receive 300 emails a day, and have thousands of unread messages in their inbox, one of the best pieces of advice I can give them in my workshops may be Be quick with that Delete button! Unfortunately, people are so loath to heed this advice, that I often don’t even try. What’s keeping them from deleting with a vengeance it the mortifying fear that they will accidentally delete an important message. Oh, the horror!… The implicit assumption There may be two underlying assumptions at play here: one assumes deleting the message harms its.. Read more

New Insight Article: How Work Processes are Degraded by Information Overload

Posted on December 6th, 2012 · Posted in Impact and Symptoms

I’m continuing to write the series of articles that analyze the negative effects of Information Overload in an enterprise setting (though many of the points noted apply to individual knowledge workers, such as small business owners, as well). The third of these articles discusses the damage information overload does to key processes in the organization, including effective meetings, team communications, work planning and people management (remember when meetings used to be about thinking and creating value together, not about ignoring each other and surreptitiously doing email?) The article reviews the ways that too much email and constant interruptions have degraded.. Read more