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Year of information overload

The end of year/early new year summary/prediction process is often more about trying to say something memorable (and thereby increase marketing appeal) than saying something useful. Consider the declaration that 2008′s big problem is information overload (ok, and the last ten years were what?). Of particular interest is the statement that information overload costs the American economy $650 billion a year. How do they come up with that number?? Seems rather arbitrary. The cost is, according to the article, found in lost productivity due to the time lost in switching tasks. Twitter, email, phone calls, and other tools shoulder the blame. What about the upside productivity gain in having ready access to a network of people able to provide help and information as needed? Or the information filtering role played by a well-formed network? To deal with information overload we have limited options: 1) reduce information flow (not going to happen), 2) rely on alternative means of managing information (networks of connections serving a filtering role and information visualization), 3) improving our personal capacity to handle information (we’re at our limit unless we start talking about augmenting human cognition with technology implants). The only way to deal with information flow today is to rely on the very network-forming tools the report lists as the source of the overload problem.