With Alvin Toffler’s Third Wave crashing down on us, it is important to take stock of how the world has changed.  The largest change has been in areas of information and media.  The flow and volume of media that now exists in the world is remarkable; more remarkable is the ease in which we can access this information.

I, in my trouser pocket, right now, have a device the size of a cassette tape (a what?) that has 1000 times the computing power than the Apollo 11 lunar module, and that can connect me to the complete sum of human knowledge simply and easily, with the touch of a button.  The amount of information that we all have access to every day is staggering.  Through technology we are all able to access more and more information faster than ever before.

Through video calls, text messages, emails, instant messages, wall posts, likes, pokes, up-votes, tweets, and pings, we are all connected to each other like never before.  It is an amazing time to be alive, and offers new and incredible opportunities that could only exist through this technology.  The communication is a wonderful tool for all of us to improve our lives, but when they are combined with the quickly expanding array of media that we can now access seemingly everywhere, the question has to be asked:  are we spending too much time plugged-in?

Not surprisingly, the group that spends the largest percentage of their day “connected” to media in some way are teenagers and young adults.  Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years of age encounter an incredible amount of media on a daily basis.

The fact that young people are more connected than ever before is not surprising to anyone who has spent any amount of time with an average teenager.  From an educational standpoint, this level of connectivity is changing the educational landscape.  This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as it has led to improved development of several critical skills.  Literacy levels are on the rise despite the prevalence of “text-speak”, and students are learning to type earlier than ever. This is all rooted in the fact that so much of young people’s time is now spent plugged-in and online.

Let’s look at some statistics…

  • According to several studies conducted by major universities and, our good friends at Statistics Canada, the average young adult in North America today watches 244 minutes of television per day.
  • He or she listens to 150 minutes of music per day.
  • He or she spends 115 minutes on the internet (40 minutes of which are spent watching videos) per day.
  • He or she spends 75 minutes reading per day.
  • He or she plays 165 minutes of video games per day.
  • He or she spends 240 minutes on their cellphone or other mobile device every single day.

If you add all that up, this means that the average teenager is spending 16.5 hours a day connected to some form of media.  At first glance this seems like an unbelievable amount of time.  16.5 hours is most of the time young people spend awake.    This isn’t quite true.  The information is coming at them, not through one medium at a time, but rather simultaneously.  This means that rather than spending an hour watching TV, then spending an hour on the internet, young people, are more likely to spend an hour watching TV while surfing the internet.

None of the sources can quite agree on the actual amount of time that young people are spending hooked into some form of media, but they are nearly unanimous in their conclusion that they are connected to more media than any other generation before them.

How can someone take in that much media in their day, and be able to identify what is true and what is not?  What skills are we teaching (or not teaching) to our young people that will help them to better understand the quality of the he quantity information they are encountering?  Check back next week as we try and figure it out.

Source: http://enableeducation.com/blog/critical-thinking-in-the-information-age-part-2-information-overload/#.Va84hvmqqko 

Categorized in Internet Technology

As a writer for the web, I’m well acquainted with information overload. One bit of information leads to five facts, which leads to three articles, which leads to an interesting interview you must listen to right now, which leads to 10 pages in your browser.

I’ve always loved the scavenger hunt research requires. Every clue leads to another. Every clue uncovered is a prize in itself: learning something new and interesting and getting one step closer to the carrot (such as the answer to your original question).

But there’s always one more thing to look up, learn and digest.


Whether your livelihood lives online — like mine — or not, you probably use the Web quite a bit. The Internet makes research a breeze. Want to know what triggered the World Wars or how the states got their shapes? Want to know how to bake a tasty tilapia or buy a reliable used car?

Information is merely a click — or, more accurately, a Google search — away. Depending on your query, there’s likely at least a dozen, if not hundreds, of blogs on the topic, a similar number of books and many more articles.

This is a good thing, but it also can overburden our brains.

According to Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D, a psychologist and author of Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload, “Information overload occurs when a person is exposed to more information than the brain can process at one time.”


Alvin Toffler actually coined the term in 1970 in his book Future Shock. As more and more people started using the Web, “information overload” became a popular phrase to describe how we felt about going online, Palladino said.


According to neuroscientists, the more accurate term is “cognitive overload,” she said. That’s “because the brain can process vast amounts of information depending on the form in which it’s presented,” she said.

For instance, taking a walk exposes us to a slew of complex data, but as Palladino said, our brains are able to process this information, and our nervous system gets soothed. Contrast that with standing on the corner of Times Square in New York City. Our brain struggles to organize all the sensory data barreling its way, and our nervous system becomes overstimulated, she said. (If you’re a highly sensitive person, like I am, overstimulated is an understatement.)

Information or cognitive overload can lead to indecisiveness, bad decisions and stress, Palladino said. Indecisiveness or analysis paralysis occurs when you’re “overwhelmed by too many choices, your brain mildly freezes and by default, [and] you passively wait and see.” Or you make a hasty decision because vital facts get wedged between trivial ones, and you consider credible and non-credible sources equally, she said.

When you can’t tolerate the overwhelm any longer, you just go for it (and likely go with the wrong choice), she said. “When overload is chronic, you live in a state of unresolved stress and anxiety that you can’t meet ongoing demands to process more information,” she said.

Overcoming Information or Cognitive Overload

In Find Your Focus Zone, Palladino suggests readers view incoming information as bringing bags of groceries into your home. “To put them away, you need time, an amount that’s limited to what fits on the counter, and an already clean fridge and organized pantry.” These are her tips:

1. Schedule breaks. Take a break away from the computer. This gives your brain a breather, and helps you regain perspective, she said. Plus, the quiet time can help you zero in on making a good decision.

2. Set limits. Because the Internet is available 24/7, you can consume information for hours. Limit how long you scan for information. Filter your sources, focusing only on the high-quality ones, she said.

3. Keep your virtual and physical spaces clutter-free. Make sure your computer files and desk are “clear, well-organized and ready to handle overflow,” she said.


Dealing with Analysis Paralysis


As Palladino noted, when you’re bombarded with too much information, you might experience analysis paralysis. You get so overwhelmed and fed up that you simply stop. On his website, business consultant and coach Chris Garrett suggests asking these valuable questions if you’re struggling with analysis paralysis on a project:

  • What do you absolutely have to do for the project to be a success?
  • What tasks can absolutely not be put off until later?
  • What are the most painful items to change post-launch?
  • What could realistically go wrong?


The Conundrum of Control


What might be most disconcerting to individuals isn’t the abundance of information, but the feeling of not having any control, speculates Guardianreporter Oliver Burkeman. In his column on information overload, he suggests focusing on finding ways to minimize the stress of overload.

Ironically, it’s often technology that helps me feel in charge of information, instead of feeling pushed and pulled by it. My go-to programs are Freedom, which blocks the Internet, and OmmWriter, which provides a distraction-free writing space. This helps me to focus on one task at a time. (Deadlines also don’t hurt.)

Consciously consuming information is another strategy. Figure out what you need to find, and be ruthless about sticking to your parameters. Save anything that’s interesting but unrelated for another time.

Regardless of how you decide to approach information overload, don’t dismiss the importance of regularly disconnecting.

Source : http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/01/21/overcoming-information-overload/

Categorized in Internet Technology

Every day, Internet users are literally bombarded with data, making it impossible at times to complete work tasks or home tasks due to technological distraction. An article published last year by the Harvard Business Review further backs this overload of content problem with figures. According to Harvard Business Review, we produce more Internet data every second compared to the entire Internet’s storage of date 20 years ago. That is astounding, so it’s no wonder that we’re now dealing with this issue.

History of Information Overload

This is actually not a new phenomenon. In fact, this issue dates back to “movable type” and printed matter. Further technologies later exasperated information overload by allowing instant access to data through digitalized content. The barriers of printing presses were removed, allowing for the instant publishing of new content.

And as many content creators and future content creators caught onto just how invaluable the Internet actually is for the delivering of new content to users, the competition began. Now, with so many bloggers and businesses scrambling to create and publish new content, we have bombarded ourselves with a deluge of data and content. 

Problems Associated with Information Overload

Some common problems with this phenomenon include: 

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling distracted
  • Problems with overall wellbeing
  • Problems with decision-making
  • Interruptions of work tasks
  • Loss of revenue for businesses
  • Interruptions of home tasks

According to recent research of this problem, the above effects have been linked to an overload of information. Relating to business, an overload of information is known to lead to a reduction in productivity and difficulty making decisions. One study found that it took an average of 25 minutes for many workers to return to work following an e-mail or RSS feed interruption.

However, with that said, many users and workers recognize the issue at hand, but are at a loss as to how to overcome this problem. Because many feel that keeping up with the latest information and research is also an integral part of their job. That’s where recovery techniques come into play to help overcome an overload of information. Learn how to overcome this problem with tips and believe it or not, more technology.

How to Recover from Information Overload

Tips for the user bombarded with too much information:

  • Improve self-control of the impulse to check your e-mail while you’re busy working on something else.
  • Prioritize data.
  • Set time limits for viewing new data.
  • Set schedules for data access that will not interfere with your work schedule.
  • Allow the latest technologies available to help you do all of the above to help you improve self-control and prioritize data.

Content Marketing Strategies to Overcome Information Overload

Activity Streams:  By subscribing to Activity Streams, you could help to reduce an overload of information, because when you receive a list of recent activities to a user or business that you have subscribed to, you then have the choice to only access the content that interests you most. Instead of feeling bombarded with everything at once, the content has been condensed into a neat and tidy list for you to choose from.

Filter Incoming Messages:  Filter incoming messages by priority. For instance, with Google you can now filter messages into various folders such as Inbox, Promotions, Work, Spam, etc.

Focus and Self-Discipline:  Focus only on content and users that truly interest you. Why subscribe to data that you know you won’t have time to view or really have no interest in viewing? Only subscribe to content that you truly feel brings value to your world and then discipline yourself as to how much time you allow for viewing this data and set times that work best with your busy schedule to view data. This is a great way to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

When Producing New Content:  Keep your content fresh, unique, valuable and relevant.

Conclusion to Information Overload

At first, it may feel like this is hard to do, if you feel almost addicted to content. But in the end, once you start implementing these easy steps, you’ll realize just how easy they really are, you’ll feel better overall and you’ll notice a significant difference in completing tasks online and offline.

Source :

Categorized in Internet Technology

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