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Summary:

The latest in contrarian thinking asserts that we are not, in fact, suffering from information overload. It might even be good for us. From the BBC’s David Reid: In fact, there is even some evidence that being bombarded with information from all directions is actually beneficial. […]

The latest in contrarian thinking asserts that we are not, in fact, suffering from information overload. It might even be good for us.

From the BBC’s David Reid:

In fact, there is even some evidence that being bombarded with information from all directions is actually beneficial.

Professor Fred Mast, of the University of Lausanne, said: “I think that we can become overloaded. It depends on the situation, but I think we are underestimating the brain’s capacity to adapt to new challenges.

Studies have been done showing that people can actually enhance their cognitive abilities, which helps them to process more information at the same time. And their performance even transfers to other tasks.”

At eTel this week, Stowe Boyd argued that continuous partial attention is not a disease but rather the new model for communications and business. We need to adapt to it and accept it, he believes, and he offered principles and tips for understanding and getting into the flow of the conversation:

  • Time is a shared space.
  • Productivity is second to Connection: network productivity trumps personal productivity.
  • Everything important will find its way to you many, many times: don’t worry if you miss it.
  • Remain in your flow: be wrapped up in the thing that has captured your attention.
  • Delete the email you haven’t read. If it’s important, people will send it again

That last tip is particularly intriguing. Delete some email? Without responding? Sign me up for the new normal.

  1. [...] Overload – Is it Good? Maybe we’re not suffering from information overload after all.  As noted by Web Worker Daily, a new study indicates that it might be good for [...]

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  2. “Delete the email you haven’t read. If it’s important, people will send it again”

    Or think you a dullard for not responding. Most of these I can agree with. This last one, not so much.

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  3. [...] post by Anne Zelenka and software by Elliott [...]

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  4. # Time is a shared space.
    # Productivity is second to Connection: network productivity trumps personal productivity.
    # Everything important will find its way to you many, many times: don’t worry if you miss it.
    # Remain in your flow: be wrapped up in the thing that has captured your attention.
    # Delete the email you haven’t read. If it’s important, people will send it again

    It’s not the responsibility of other people – or the universe at large – to give this narcissistic prick anything “important” more than once. If they miss the bus, I certainly won’t worry about them.

    And no, I won’t send the important e-mail again. I’m not the guy’s mother. “Slacker” was a movie, not an advisable lifestyle choice for someone interested in success at self-employment.

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  5. I have ver bad time for last 3 weeks all due to information overload. i have had high fever and my brian partially stopped working because it was used in excess in reading mails and RSS feeds.

    finally i am fine after leaving my computers and getting back to offline world

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  6. [...] Bring on Information Overload: It’s Good for You: The latest in contrarian thinking asserts that we are not, in fact, suffering from information overload. It might even be good for us. From the BBC’s David Reid: In fact, there is even some evidence that being bombarded with information from all directions is actually beneficial. Professor Fred Mast, of the University of Lausanne, said: “I think that we can become overloaded. It depends on the situation, but I think we are underestimating the brain’s capacity to adapt to new challenges. Studies have been done showing that people can actually enhance their cognitive abilities, which helps them to process more information at the same time. And their performance even transfers to other tasks.” [...]

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  7. I think there are different kinds of email–and some is more “deletable/ignorable” than others. As a writer for WWD and an industry analyst, I get a lot of emails from people I don’t know (PR people, people with ideas for posts, people wanting to write for us). I get so much it’s hard to keep up with the email from people I do know–people I want to keep up with–and about projects I’m committed to. I would like to be able to handle every email responsibly and graciously and know when something’s important. But at some point you reach saturation and can’t. There are also other priorities, like friends and family in the real world.

    Just like it’s reasonable to ignore an IM if you are too busy when you get it, it’s reasonable to ignore an email if there are other more pressing things to deal with. It’s up to each person to prioritize, and the fact that someone sends an email doesn’t automatically move them above other things in the receiver’s life.

    As for seeing what’s important again and again–I don’t think the idea is that someone will “give” it to you, but that if it is indeed important it will come up in many different places and if you’re in the conversational flow, you’re likely to run into it at some point.

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  8. I actively follow that last piece of advice. However that does mean I do still respond to most emails, but in my own time (where possible).

    It’s not a slacker approach, and yes it does (OBVIOUSLY) depend on the email in question.

    Side question: why, when reading any such rules, do so many people take them as black and white? If you are all so smart then you should already know to apply these things in a way that works for you. The world isn’t black and white, please apply your own greyscale.

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  9. [...] Hat tip: WebWorkerDaily [...]

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  10. [...] Worker Daily julkaisi nimittäin hyviä uutisia informaatioähkyosastolta. Tutkija Fred Mast Lausannen yliopistosta uskoo, että aliarvioimme aivojen kyvyn sopeutua uusiin [...]

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