Saturday, June 14, 2008

Taming the Hyperconnectivity Beast

Somewhere along the line, I realized that the idea of being as 'always on' and fully connected as possible has gone way past the point of diminishing returns, for me anyway. It seems that in the (endless) search for the ultimate aggregator of info I need and the 'perfect' productivity tool, I've been twitterizing my work (chopping it up into little flavor nuggets while rarely getting around to making the larger, more satisfying meals) (to stretch a bad metaphor).

Well, I'm working on cutting back, and while I'm thinking there are tricks to doing so... Maybe it's just a matter of discipline?

Lost in E-Mail, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast
SAN FRANCISCO — The onslaught of cellphone calls and e-mail and instant messages is fracturing attention spans and hurting productivity. It is a common complaint. But now the very companies that helped create the flood are trying to mop it up.

Some of the biggest technology firms, including Microsoft, Intel, Google and I.B.M., are banding together to fight information overload. Last week they formed a nonprofit group to study the problem, publicize it and devise ways to help workers — theirs and others — cope with the digital deluge.

Their effort comes as statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.

The big chip maker Intel found in an eight-month internal study that some employees who were encouraged to limit digital interruptions said they were more productive and creative as a result.

Intel and other companies are already experimenting with solutions. Small units at some companies are encouraging workers to check e-mail messages less frequently, to send group messages more judiciously and to avoid letting the drumbeat of digital missives constantly shake up and reorder to-do lists.
And in Ars Technica:

No off switch: "Hyperconnectivity" on the rise

By David Chartier | Published: May 14, 2008 - 08:00AM CT

Many of us leave our day jobs at the office and come home to our families, prime time television, or possibly an hour or two of World of Warcraft. According to a new study from Interactive Data Corp. (IDC) and sponsored by Nortel, however, an emerging demographic of "hyperconnected" individuals in the workforce doesn't have an off switch. While these Internet-thirsty gadget hounds are a respectable minority right now, IDC says the need for connectivity is on the rise—and the enterprise needs to be ready. So do the psychiatrists.

Information Overload Research Group launches

About a year and a half ago, I participated in a workshop with about 20 other people focused on the problem of information overload. This group included academics researching the impact and novel solutions to the problem, researchers from huge companies like Microsoft, Google, Intel, and IBM, analysts in the space, and a couple of people like me from companies working on information overload solutions.

We had a lot of great discussions, many of which really just got kicked off at the workshop. A number of us thought that it would be worthwhile to continue these discussions across this cross-section of people doing cutting-edge work in this field. We formed a steering committee and decided to build on the workshop and create a nonprofit organization focused on the huge and growing problem of information overload.

It took a lot of work, but after a year of meetings, discussions, and debates with an incredibly knowledgeable group of colleagues in this field, we're now ready to officially launch the organization. I'm really excited about the opportunities ahead of us. Matt Richtel just wrote a great article in the New York Times that talks about the Information Overload Research Group , some of the things we hope to accomplish, and why we think it's so important. A couple of my fellow IORG board members, Nathan Zeldes and Jonathan Spira, are featured prominently in the article.

Our first annual conference is going to be held in New York on July 15th. The final agenda is still shaping up, but we already have a number of great speakers and panelists lined up, including Maggie Jackson, the author of the new book Distracted.

I'll be writing quite a bit more both here and on the Information Overload Research Group blog over the coming weeks. A big thanks to all of my friends at IORG who have helped make this happen. It has been a real pleasure working with them, and I'm very excited about the future of this important organization.

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1 comment:

e said...

emaildashboard (one of the cooler sites I found as a result of this story) has a good wrap-up here:
http://www.emaildashboard.com/2008/06/information-o-1.html