Response to Stowe on Information Overload

July 18, 2008 at 7:24 am | Posted in Attention Management, interruption science | 1 Comment

Today’s blog entry is from a comment I posted in Stowe Boyd’s blog where he poo-poo’ed the idea of information overload as a legitimate problem. I guess it’s summed up in the title of his post “Overload, Schmoverload: The Myth Of Personal Productivity“. Unfortunately his blog template seems to clip long link names, so here they are in full.

There’s no “right” answer in the debate between those that believe information overload will soon cause the heads of information workers will begin to pop like popcorn as they slump over in their fuzzy cubicles and those that believe we’re just adapting to the new flow.  I toggle back and forth between both points of view myself depending on what I’m facing at that time. 

What I propose is a focus on attention management (specifically what I’ve been writing about as enterprise attention management) that focuses on how enterprises can help information workers to pull the important messages forward and push the less important messages back.  Whether you see information overload as a crisis or just one more thing people are adapting to, improving efficiency is something everyone should be able to get behind.  I blogged about this at https://knowledgeforward.wordpress.com/2007/08/17/a-manifesto-free-definition-of-attention-management/.

And I fully agree with what I have called closed-loop analysis and you term as network productivity.  For those who learned not to be selfish in kindergarden, what is important is the value of interruptions to everyone in the loop as a whole, not just you.  If a 5 minute interruption of you for clarification saves me a day of work, you’d be a jerk to say no. I just posted a set of interruption patterns to try to clarify the good-and-bad nature of interruptions and the need to look at the closed-loop at http://ccsblog.burtongroup.com/collaboration_and_content/2008/06/interruption-mo.html.

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  1. […] buy into all of that – I really do.  I’m not a member of Stowe Boyd’s “overload, schmoverload” club. But it seems like at the other extreme a “war on interruptions” was declared somewhere […]


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