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.”

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.


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