Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Tackling Information Overload

January 1st, 2004 · 1 Comment

Daily Herald writes about information overload: “The always-connected nature of our world can be overwhelming. Instead of driving technology to better our lives, we’re often letting technology manhandle us. And the longer we stay connected, the more data we tend to produce for others to process, quickly cycling into information overload.”

Jakob Nielsen adds that “a steady dose of realtime interruptions is toxic to anyone’s health.” A suggesed solution is the Internet control panel (or what I prefer to call the Digital Dashboard):

This would be a single central base for monitoring and prioritizing all the information a user is interested in. Do you want to keep track of your eBay auctions? Instead of five e-mails per auction, all scattered throughout your inbox, you would have a single flag in the control panel. Discussion groups? The control panel would show when hot topics of interest to you are being discussed and would call attention to discussions with contributions by writers you particularly respect. E-mail? Restricted to truly personal communication. Newsletters, intranet status reports, and other nonletter communications would be summarized and available for perusal on request. IM would have a small role, but your personal agent would be very strict at screening incoming requests.

Whether or not you believe in my control panel, the most important point is to change our ideology for computer-mediated communication. The old thinking was that more information was better. If a unit of information were sent, it would have to be transmitted and received at all costs. The new thinking must be that human time is our most precious resource. Stop strip-mining it.

Traditional operating systems managed and scheduled computer resources. The next generation of computers must protect users’ time just as strictly as the most vigilant executive secretary protects a CEO’s calendar.

Tags: Digital Dashboard

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