I’ve long felt that information overload is a temporary condition. I know it’s hard to think that way when you’re coping with a mountain of emails and Google search results.
But I’m getting the sense that we’ve reached an important milestone in the trajectory of information overload. That perhaps we’ve crested the mountain and are starting to go down the other side.
I’m hearing less about the stress and angst that IO creates and more about solutions—techniques and technologies that people are actually trying. In many cases, they’re feeling more productive and efficient. Not to mention less harried.
Clay Shirky has famously said that information overload is caused by filter failure. Clay Johnson’s new book advises us to go on an information diet. We’re apparently starting to see both better filters and better diets.
Here are some of the indicators:
“The End of Information Overload?“—Liz Wilson, staff writer at paper.li, says people are reading more, and they’re reading longer pieces.
“The Phone Stack“—Cool People Care says the phone stack is catching on. It’s a simple idea: “When you’re out at dinner, after everyone has ordered, each person places their phone in a stack in the middle of the table.”
“3 Tools to Store and Search Your Social Media Activity“—The Social Media Examiner extols the virtues of egoArchive, Memolane and Greplin. egoArchive is now called Archify and will enable you to search everything you’ve seen on the web, which can be a huge time saver and result in more successful searches. Archify’s tagline: “What you see is what you search.”
“How to manage in-box ‘bacon’“—Chris Gaylord at The Christian Science Monitor offers several filtering techniques to deal with the commercial messages you sort of want (and Unsubscribe.com for the ones you don’t).
“Too Much Input and Not Enough ‘Innerput’ Is Bad for Business“—Blogging at the Huffington Post, psychologist Jim Taylor advises setting criteria around the information you’ll consume—and jettisoning that which doesn’t clear the bar.
“And end to emails . . . here’s the way“—A state-of-email report from Sydney Morning Herald’s Glenda Kwek. Kwek mentions France’s Atos (74,000 employees), which aims to completely replace email with wikis, instant messaging and other tools. Not everyone thinks that’s a good idea. And Stark Insider’s Clinton Stark doubts that email will ever disappear (“Email is dead. Long live email!“).
Not all of those articles include measurable evidence that the world is getting a better handle on information overload. But the scores of comments that accompany some of the pieces are filled with ideas from people who have come up with answers that work.
Have you seen evidence that the dialog is moving away from “Woe is us” to “Here’s how I’m coping?” If so (or if not), the comment box is yours.