Category Archives: Media coverage

Do cultural memes add to overload?

University of Southern California sophomore Nicholas Slayton just wrote an insightful column for The Daily Trojan. Slayton says the prevalence of “memes”—ideas that spread by word of mouth, interaction or media exposure—generates intense but short-lived excitement, while adding to information overload.

The streams of content and ideas flow so quickly and from so many areas, leading to a kind of cultural ADD. . . .

So is Charlie Sheen a cultural milestone? Unlikely. Tiger blood and bed intruders will fade, likely replaced by some equally popular but short-lived meme.

Everything is moving at such a ridiculous pace. It takes something really special to leave a lasting, significant mark on our lives.

What will do that? Most likely not a meme.

Read Slayton’s column at


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Filed under Impacts on society, Media coverage

Going under

The New York Post just published a well-written overview of information overload titled Going under: Information overload is drowning office workers. Reporter Chris Erikson included two of my favorite statistics—that knowledge workers lose up to 28 percent of their time to overload of various types, at a cost of just under US $1 trillion per year.  He also rounded up some tips to cut the glut.

Two other worthwhile collections of pointers:

Email Etiquette for the Super-Busy by Jocelyn Glei at

10 Ways to Multitask Better by Rick Newman, chief business correspondent at US News

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Filed under Email management, Impacts on society, Information Overload Research Group, Media coverage, Personal productivity, Research

Six “must reads” about information overload

If you want to get up to speed on information overload, what should you read first? Here are six of the best pieces I’ve encountered to date:

Meet the Lifehackers (New York Times Magazine, October 2005) — This is the article that got me started on the quest to quash information overload.

10 Proposals for Fixing the E-Mail Glut (New York Times Bits Blog, December 2009)

Be Heard, Understood and Remembered in an Overloaded Environment (Communication World, International Association of Business Communicators, July 2009)

E-mail’s Friendly Fire (Wall Street Journal)

Your Brain on Computers: Addicted to Technology and Paying a Price (New York Times, June 2010)

Recovering from Information Overload (McKinsey Quarterly, January 2011)

And a bonus article not included in the official six because you have to purchase it from HBR:

Death by Information Overload (Paul Hemp, Harvard Business Review, Sept. 2009)

That should get you grounded in the basics. I’ll suggest more recommended reading in the near future.

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Filed under Email management, Information Overload Research Group, Media coverage, Pearls, Personal productivity

IORG: Ready to rock

It’s been four years since 30 or so people came together at the headquarters of Microsoft Research to talk about a worldwide problem — information overload.

The group included technologists, academicians, researchers, consultants, solution providers and other deep thinkers from Intel, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Morgan Stanley, Stanford University, UC Irvine, and other high-profile organizations. Organizations that both cause information overload and need to solve it.

From those discussions emerged the Information Overload Research Group. The following year (2008), IORG became a non-profit corporation, held a conference in New York, and got serious ink in places like TIME, the Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review.

Now it’s 2011. Society may have gotten a little smarter about information overload, but the deluge continues unabated. The good news is that IORG is poised to become a more effective voice in the struggle against overload. The organization’s agenda for 2011:

• A new website (up and running at
• A repository of significant research on information overload (coming soon)
• An information overload index (is it getting worse or better?)
• A quarterly teleconference with experts
• Periodic “research briefs” with the best current research
• A live conference late this year (still tentative)
• Taking part in Information Overload Awareness Day

What else can/should we do? Your ideas are more than welcome. In fact, in the words of IORG President Nathan Zeldes, “if you share our passion for eliminating info Overload, I urge you to join the group and influence its activity!”

The dues are low. The opportunity to make a difference is high. It’s time to help the world get a handle on this.

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Filed under Information Overload Research Group, Media coverage