Information Overload – when is enough enough? OR: My brain is hurting

overloadedI wrote a post a little while back, derived from and assignment I did at uni last year on communication issues with technology and also information overload.

I think this is how I am feeling right now (although my brain seems to be accelerating out the front of my head lately)…..absolutely bloody overloaded.

Multiple nings blogs (and blogs in nings) podcasts twitters (and the vast ream of information that lends itself to) 3 email accounts, content aggregators, conferences, workshops, uni and research, work, life the universe and everything [I know I have missed a raft of information channels that are currently clogging the synapses in my brain -surprisingly minimal tv though].

What does the literature say?

I have just done a quick trawl of the peer reviewed literature (journals and such), and there was a lot of work written in the 80’s and 90’s about the perils/evils of e-mail overload (oh I wish that was only the case! While in the noughties (oops 2000’s) there are a number of papers referring to information overload, it is not necessarily in the context of the sheer volume of social networking tools/applications/sites so readily available now and the effects on people living in this digitally dominant century. It does not look like a plethora of information directly related to this phenomomena. PhD theme for moi perhaps?

I found a great paper by Richard Genreau (will ref at the end of this) titled “The New Techo Culture in the Workplace and at Home”. There is some great grabs of information in there, although he tends to concentrate more on the issue of “technostress” [ie stress bought on by the use of current and new technologies] than what is my apparent “technolust” [pardon the pun]. I would suggest my technolust is actually what is bringing on the information overload.

Some quotes worthy of thought by Genreau:

“…technology has changed the beliefs, values, behaviors, and material objects that constitute a people’s way of life both at work and at home, thus creating ‘The New Techno Culture in the Workplace and at Home…’ ”

” Has the computer replaced the traditional role of the dog as a man’s best friend? This trusted and faithful computer, with its software, e-mail, the Internet, and digital information, offers a way of life that increases an individual’s productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, creativity, and mobility.”

“Juggling technology like cell phones, pagers, and electronic conferencing has all the ingredients for a technology meltdown.” [actually, it just feeds and supports my addiction]

“One can easily forget that communication is about relationships, not technology.” [and is that where some of the self-inflicted pressure comes from? The fundamental human desire to communicate and interact with others, albeit here, in an electronic medium?]

“Multitasking can lead to information overload when employees find their mind wandering, saying things without thinking or with a quick temper, and working on several projects at a time without finishing them” [yup that feels like me – minus the temper]

“The literature has started discussing technostress in education with all of its ramifications involving online courses and degrees, electronic classrooms, digital textbooks and libraries, and private business entering into education.” [implications for our learners – see this post by Sue Waters for more information on our supposed ‘digital natives’]

Coping? Can we really if we are truly addicted?

How do you all cope? It all feels like too much today…..going to blame the resurgence of the cold affecting my brain function.

Seriously though – coping strategies for info overload? It’s not like the information channels are just limited to email now (ahh the good old days!).

So to conclude, THIS is reasonable representation of the state of my mind of late:

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]If you can’t view this in your reader, visit this site.


Gendreau, R (2007). “The New Techno Culture in the Workplace and at Home”. Journal of American Academy of Business. September 2007. 11(2). pp 191 – 197.

2 thoughts on “Information Overload – when is enough enough? OR: My brain is hurting

  1. Pingback: Technolust Bytes » Information Overload Challenge - yes you!

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