Thursday, January 13, 2005

Information overload 

Like Anjo I made some slides on information overload.

Information Overload

What is the problem ?  

  • Information overload is a form of cognitive (over)load
  • It comes from having to filter and judge more potentially useful information than a person can handle
Corollary : the Less is More principle:
There is a point where the extra benefit of providing more information is negative because it increases the cognitive load (cost) of getting at the more useful information.
The cost of not knowing may outweigh the cost of finding out.

Examples of Information overload

  • Overflowing mailboxes
  • Google queries with 12000 hits
  • so many (e-mails, papers, reports, meetings, conferences, blogs, documentation. memo's) to read/attend that there is no time to think anymore

What causes Information overload

  • Too much too insufficiently relevant information which technogy makes too easy to make available in ``raw'' form.
  • Anxiety to remain "in the loop'' and social pressure to keep people "in the loop".
  • Insufficient context: Judging and interpreting information is harder if you don't have the context of the producer. People often don't notice because they think the context is ``obvious'', and it is hard for Technology to preserve the context.
    •  many children will explain things by giving an example. Sometimes giving an example seems childish but are good examples undervalued ? 

What is the Result of Info overload ?

  • causes stress
  • People think they ought to know because they potentially can
  • Creates defensive strategies
    •   "Better" to stop looking for info
    •   "Look under the lattern for the lost key" i.e. only look where you can still see through the mess
    • spreadsheet syndrome : the world is what my spreadsheet says, if that fails make the world conform the spreadsheat
  • Loss of oversight
  • Hard to distinguish details from the essentials
  • time loss
    • how much on what actually ???

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© Copyright 2004-2006 Rogier Brussee.
These are my personal views and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.