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In a world where “fake news” proliferates and those daily intelligence briefings really do drag on, there comes an artificially intelligent response.

Entrepreneur Blake Cornell, a self-described “nerd’s nerd” who routinely follows bright ideas with several thousand lines of code, doesn’t necessarily intend Long Island Tech News to be the antidote to agenda-driven phonies masquerading as journalists. But by carefully selecting his news aggregator’s sources – and giving users unprecedented control over their newsfeed’s emotional content – the cofounder of Sayville-based e-solutions provider Web Source Group has created the perfect propaganda filter, and that’s just one of his creation’s breakthrough functions.

At heart, Long Island Tech News is a robotic engine that fetches updated news stories every 15 minutes (672 times per week) from roughly 80 local, state, national and international sources, ranging from news outlets to universities to government agencies. Coded to seek out stories involving technology, business, Long Island or any combination thereof, the engine analyzes matches and stores them in its searchable, constantly evolving database.

That’s fairly basic stuff: Aggregators like Feedly and Google News already offer customizable feeds, while sites like Metanews have been lining up third-party headlines for two decades. Cornell’s creation breaks ground by focusing on Long Island – “I didn’t want to do national,” he noted, “because if it grew wings, I’d need to plan for that” – and especially though its use of NLP, and no, that’s not a reference to neuro-linguistic programming, a widely discredited pseudoscience favored by carnival hypnotists.

In this case, the world’s “first NLP-based AI tech news engine” spices up its artificial intelligence with natural language processing, a computer-science field focused on the interactions between automatons and human languages – the digital secret sauce in Cornell’s intuitive search system.

“Traditionally, people can only search by keywords,” he told Innovate LI. “Now they can search by emotion.”

Basically, Long Island Tech News measures the “contextually aware sentiment” of an article’s specific language, allowing users to search stories based on their inherent levels of anger, disgust, fear, joy and sadness. After a traditional keyword search field, each of those five emotions gets four boxes – Not Likely, Unlikely, Likely and Very Likely – and users can click some, all or none of them.

Cornell pitches it as a time- and effort-saver in a digital world overrun by fake news, repetitive reporting and other inefficient distractions.

Blake Cornell: Heart of the matter.

“The engine determines the emotional sentiments and stores them as attributes in each individual news article, which can be searched for later,” he said. “So instead of going to 80 websites, I go to one, and instead of sifting through thousands of articles, I can search via emotion and find the needle in the haystack.”

As an example, the inventor searched Long Island Tech News for “Donald Trump” and clicked several emotion boxes, turning down the anger and fear and turning up the joy. While most “Trump” searches turn up boatloads of vitriol, this customized search of the engine’s 80-something sources produced two results: a story about the “Trump effect’s” positive influence on Japan’s Nikkei Index and what Cornell called an “oddball” return focused on the Green Bay Packers.

“Trump was in there,” he noted. “But in the story, the joy was really for the Packers.”

It’s not an exact science, yet, hence the beta run. But Long Island Tech News’ ambitions are high, and they don’t stop at measuring news-article sentimentality.

The engine – which processed 8,130 articles between its Oct. 7 launch date and 3 p.m. Dec. 28 – also caters to the so-much-info-so-little-time generation with tidy article summaries. While searchers can link directly to source articles, they can also breeze through a summary (5,000-word articles reduced to 500 words) or click a button that reads the Cliff’s Notes version aloud, freeing them to multitask.

“There are junk words in language,” Cornell noted. “And there’s repetition in content. Basically, you and concatenate two sentences together and remove the filler.”

As it does with its sentimentality protocols, Long Island Tech News relies heavily on artificial intelligence for its summaries. Cornell has hired no writers or editors; instead, the engine reads the source stories and writes its own synopses through a combination of protocols borrowed from Watson – IBM’s speech-sensitive AI system – and application-programming interface middleware designed by Cornell.

“I generate no content,” he said. “I have no writers. It’s all completely automated. The system automatically finds the content, tags it, categorizes it and shortens it.

“The whole idea is machine learning, which is all about trial and error,” Cornell added. “You can teach a computer to play Mario on Nintendo, you can teach it to shorten articles.”

While providing a customized newsfeed is Long Island Tech News’ primary function, it offers other potential verticals, according to Cornell, who is also chief technical officer at Garden City-based cybersecurity expert Integris Security LLC.

For instance, organizations can sign up as a news source, have the engine fetch their relevant press releases and then visit the site to see how the releases are playing with audiences.

“You don’t want an angry press release,” Cornell noted. “Corporate institutions can check their press releases to make sure they’re not sending the wrong message.”

The programmer also envisions partnerships with “specific news outlets” that want to provide “extended search capabilities” internally.

Cornell’s extended search capabilities will remain in beta run indefinitely, while he incorporates upgrades including new “trend analysis” functionality – allowing the site to rank its “top” stories – and multilingual support (he’s busily integrating Google Translate’s API).

He’s also looking to improve facial- and object-recognition protocols, helping the engine search source sites’ artwork more thoroughly and, in the process, enhance its own search capabilities.

“As time goes on and it processes more and more images, you can search ‘Chuck Schumer unhappy’ or search terms like that,” he said. “The idea is you can apply the emotion on someone’s face to your search.”

Cornell is even dancing with the idea of being able to predict tomorrow’s news today, by hyper-focusing on analytics and studying trends.

“It sounds out there,” he noted. “But it’s totally feasible.”

While the beta version already includes some advertising “just to test the model,” Cornell has other monetization ideas in mind. He’d first like to focus his news engine on a specific industry “and make it national” – the finance industry is a possible target, he noted – before ultimately licensing out the technology to specific news organizations and helping them incorporate it.

Wherever Long Island Tech News goes next, Cornell – who estimates his startup has cost him about 500 hours of programming and “50 bucks worth of software” – knows his fingers will do the walking.

“I’m the sweat equity guy,” he said. “I secure things. I break things. I develop things. My fingers need to move, man.”

Author: GREGORY ZELLER
Source: http://www.innovateli.com/info-overload-get-aggregated-not-aggravated

Categorized in Others

I tried to give you my best advice in the title of this article and if you are reading this, you chose not to take it. So please reconsider.

If you are having some strong dis-ease following the Presidential Election in the USA, you might want to think some more about what I am suggesting. Don’t read another article about the Election. For that matter don’t listen or watch anything related to the Election either. For goodness sake don’t write anything about the Election at all. That suggestion should be the easiest for you to follow, because I am writing this for you.

Now as to your dose of not consuming or producing any Election thoughts, that varies by weight of your post-election emotional burden. Some of you might want to wait about a decade before taking a peek at what happened next. For most that won’t be necessary.

News and views that you can’t use, can give you the blues.

We are built to detect threats, act quickly to reduce them and to save energy by calmly accepting some risk and discomfort related to there being nothing we can do about somethings at the moment.

Being exposed to more and more news and what could or should be done about this or that can make one quite jittery, particularly if most of it doesn’t give you a clue as to what you can specifically do. Viewing the news and checking out new views can trigger, “should I prepare to fight, prepare to run, prepare to hide and breathe softly and deeply?” If the news does not contain much direction regarding your particular situation, you may just freeze and seek further news and views. Things can get increasingly chilly.

If you are following news on the political climate like some people follow weather reports and forecasts you might want to stop that. The weather can indeed hit people where they live. Forecasts can inform as when to run or hide or seek higher ground, but usually not. Some people have a friend or family that live some place that a weather forecast has under a rotating cloud, but these people probably don’t need to be warned about that. Having nobody that is near the forest fire or in the hot lava’s path doesn’t stop some people from being good citizens of the world by feeling a duty to keep current about the state of such affairs, but they do so at an emotional cost that often goes unnoticed. When the report comes on about the earthquake, even if you calculate that you are thousands of miles from the epicenter quickly, your brain still spent some milliseconds sensing if your foundation was shaking.

Like weather reports, political news can rile you up with no need or no place to go.

For instance if you see yourself in some oppressed class that Donald Trump is reportedly not fond of, you may feel a need to stay informed as to Mr. Trump’s plans. If you have heard of Wikileaks and aren’t sure that all the information provided there was made up by the Russians, you might be bracing yourself for what will be revealed upon the release of the next batch of leaks, not having close to processing the thousands and thousands of leaks already revealed.

Wanting more and more news and opinions can even rewire your brain which makes it much more difficult to process information and more difficult to see big pictures. Some of these big pictures are obvious and obviously important and go completely unseen due to news and views distraction.

News that you can and want to use can get lost in the Breaking News.

Overwhelming people with news is consciously used tool of propagandists. New news doesn’t just sell advertising and the goods and services advertised, it draws attention away from unsolved problems to the delight of those profiting from these problems.

You may think that giving yourself a news blackout or constriction as being unpatriotic or not what a social justice warrior does. Think again. There can be great value in contemplating what you already know or what you already think that you know. Compare what you’ve heard with your personal experience. Question the sources of information you believe and ask yourself how you would judge information from a source you don’t trust, if you did trust that source.

Resist seeking news to avoid your friends knowing something that you haven’t heard yet. Your friends will probably like you better for giving them the opportunity to be the ones to let you know the latest, then they will think of you as a moron for not knowing.

Notice if you have a tendency to get interested in collecting more an more news that supports your views and delight in being more and more and more convinced that you are right and the wise guy where you work is wrong. Maybe you have collected enough ammunition for awhile.

If seeking more news is making you feel more relaxed about accepting things that you have no immediate plans to do much about, keep seeking. If seeking news is energizing you to bond closer with friends and family, or is energizing to do something to express what you have come to believe in, keep seeking. If you believe strongly in something that you have been recently questioning, make seeking that a priority.

If you are finding that your post-election news seeking has eroded some of your seeking of sports score, fashion trends, pictures of what your friends had for dinner last night, the latest hilarious videos that have gone viral, what the humidity might be tomorrow, that might be a good thing.

Source:  goodmenproject.com

Categorized in News & Politics

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 Science & Tech

GOOGLE “information overload” and you are immediately overloaded with information: more than 7m hits in 0.05 seconds. Some of this information is interesting: for example, that the phrase “information overload” was popularised by Alvin Toffler in 1970. Some of it is mere noise: obscure companies promoting their services and even more obscure bloggers sounding off. The overall impression is at once overwhelming and confusing.

“Information overload” is one of the biggest irritations in modern life. There are e-mails to answer, virtual friends to pester, YouTube videos to watch and, back in the physical world, meetings to attend, papers to shuffle and spouses to appease. A survey by Reuters once found that two-thirds of managers believe that the data deluge has made their jobs less satisfying or hurt their personal relationships. One-third think that it has damaged their health. Another survey suggests that most managers think most of the information they receive is useless.

Commentators have coined a profusion of phrases to describe the anxiety and anomie caused by too much information: “data asphyxiation” (William van Winkle), “data smog” (David Shenk), “information fatigue syndrome” (David Lewis), “cognitive overload” (Eric Schmidt) and “time famine” (Leslie Perlow). Johann Hari, a British journalist, notes that there is a good reason why “wired” means both “connected to the internet” and “high, frantic, unable to concentrate”.

These worries are exaggerated. Stick-in-the-muds have always complained about new technologies: the Victorians fussed that the telegraph meant that “the businessman of the present day must be continually on the jump.” And businesspeople have always had to deal with constant pressure and interruptions—hence the word “business”. In his classic study of managerial work in 1973 Henry Mintzberg compared managers to jugglers: they keep 50 balls in the air and periodically check on each one before sending it aloft once more.

Yet clearly there is a problem. It is not merely the dizzying increase in the volume of information (the amount of data being stored doubles every 18 months). It is also the combination of omnipresence and fragmentation. Many professionals are welded to their smartphones. They are also constantly bombarded with unrelated bits and pieces—a poke from a friend one moment, the latest Greek financial tragedy the next.

The data fog is thickening at a time when companies are trying to squeeze ever more out of their workers. A survey in America by Spherion Staffing discovered that 53% of workers had been compelled to take on extra tasks since the recession started. This dismal trend may well continue—many companies remain reluctant to hire new people even as business picks up. So there will be little respite from the dense data smog, which some researchers fear may be poisonous.

They raise three big worries. First, information overload can make people feel anxious and powerless: scientists have discovered that multitaskers produce more stress hormones. Second, overload can reduce creativity. Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School has spent more than a decade studying the work habits of 238 people, collecting a total of 12,000 diary entries between them. She finds that focus and creativity are connected. People are more likely to be creative if they are allowed to focus on something for some time without interruptions. If constantly interrupted or forced to attend meetings, they are less likely to be creative. Third, overload can also make workers less productive. David Meyer, of the University of Michigan, has shown that people who complete certain tasks in parallel take much longer and make many more errors than people who complete the same tasks in sequence.

Curbing the cacophony

What can be done about information overload? One answer is technological: rely on the people who created the fog to invent filters that will clean it up. Xerox promises to restore “information sanity” by developing better filtering and managing devices. Google is trying to improve its online searches by taking into account more personal information. (Some people fret that this will breach their privacy, but it will probably deliver quicker, more accurate searches.) A popular computer program called “Freedom” disconnects you from the web at preset times.

A second answer involves willpower. Ration your intake. Turn off your mobile phone and internet from time to time.

But such ruses are not enough. Smarter filters cannot stop people from obsessively checking their BlackBerrys. Some do so because it makes them feel important; others because they may be addicted to the “dopamine squirt” they get from receiving messages, as Edward Hallowell and John Ratey, two academics, have argued. And self-discipline can be counter-productive if your company doesn't embrace it. Some bosses get shirty if their underlings are unreachable even for a few minutes.

Most companies are better at giving employees access to the information superhighway than at teaching them how to drive. This is starting to change. Management consultants have spotted an opportunity. Derek Dean and Caroline Webb of McKinsey urge businesses to embrace three principles to deal with data overload: find time to focus, filter out noise and forget about work when you can. Business leaders are chipping in. David Novak of Yum! Brands urges people to ask themselves whether what they are doing is constructive or a mere “activity”. John Doerr, a venture capitalist, urges people to focus on a narrow range of objectives and filter out everything else. Cristobal Conde of SunGard, an IT firm, preserves “thinking time” in his schedule when he cannot be disturbed. This might sound like common sense. But common sense is rare amid the cacophony of corporate life.

Source:
http://www.economist.com/node/18895468

Categorized in Science & Tech

The backlash against the information overload of the modern Internet era is getting stronger than ever. After years of sharing everything with everyone and breathlessly embracing the latest site du jour on the social Web, people are realizing that they can no longer keep up. Signs of this are all around us – people promising to “go off the grid” for days at a time, people removing their profiles from social networks and complaining of social media fatigue, and people scrambling to find new ways to rein in their social media promiscuity. But is this Slow Internet movement based around an ultimately flawed idea – that it’s actually possible to shut off the massive meme-spraying firehose of the Interwebs?

 

People who are in the Slow Internet movement, of course, don’t actually refer to this as the Slow Internet movement, much as the pioneers of the Slow Food movement never actually referred to it as the Slow Food movement until a bunch of foodies in Italy took it into their own hands when they saw a McDonald's opening near the Spanish Steps in Rome. The manifesto of the Slow Internet movement is similar to the manifesto of the Slow Food movement, but adapted for the realities of our digital age: making an effort to spend more quality time offline, re-thinking relationships on social networks, and finding ways to reduce the feeling of guilt about not checking one's streams constantly.

It’s easy to see why the Slow Internet movement has struck a chord with so many people – this Internet thing seems to be getting away from us these days. According to Mark Zuckerberg’s Law of Online Sharing, we’re on pace to share billions of pieces of content in 2012. People who have already hooked up their Spotify music accounts to Facebook have shared more than 1.5 billion pieces of information in just the last two months. Not only that, the amount of information that we share online will double every year, ad infinitum, thanks to the whole concept of "frictionless sharing." (Sound familiar? It’s Moore’s Law updated for the social networking era.)

But let’s step back for a second. How extraordinary is this massive amount of information flooding into our lives?

One of last year’s most popular books – The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood from James Gleick (yes, that James Gleick) – documented numerous occasions in history when even the leading intellectuals of the day admitted to being overloaded by the amount of information out there. Leibniz feared a return to barbarism "to which result that horrible mass of books which keeps on growing might contribute very much." The words of Alexander Pope, responding to the veritable flood of books brought on by the printing press, are priceless: “Paper became so cheap, and printers so numerous, that a deluge of Authors covered the land.” Contemporaries wrote of drowning in a "churning flood" of information. T.S. Eliot feared that all this new information was bringing us no closer to enlightenment: "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? / Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"

And that’s the same story teased out by another book on information overload through the ages, Too Much to Know. As Harvard historian Ann Blair makes clear, the same issues that we’re facing today brought on by the flood of information in our lives are the same ones contemplated hundreds of years ago during the European Renaissance, long before the information era and the rapid proliferation of modern communications. Yet, as Blair points out, Renaissance scholars eventually found a way to “surf” the massive tidal wave of information that was being unlocked each day using new indexing techniques and inventing literary genres like the florilegium.

If information, indeed, wants to be free, it means that it’s destined to propagate endlessly, without limit. Think of Borges's infinite Library of Babel, where everything can be found, but nothing can be located. The world is headed toward maximum entropy, a fact that members of the Slow Internet movement seem to forget. The Joy of Quiet is not actually a joy, and it’s never actually getting any quieter. The only thing capable of taming the exponential growth of information is something else that can also grow at an exponential pace: silicon. But that opens up a whole other can of worms – at what point will man and machine become one, in our mad scramble to make sense of the sheer amount of information in our lives? 

Source :
http://bigthink.com/endless-innovation/information-overload-there-has-always-been-too-much-to-know

Categorized in Science & Tech

There's a new add-on for Gmail called Inbox Pause, which does something utterly simple – it adds a pause button to your inbox – but represents, I think, a new phase in our long war against information overload. Consider the absurdity. Inbox Pause doesn't reduce the quantity of emails that bombard you. Nor does it help you answer them faster. In any case, there's already a perfectly good way to "pause" your email: just don't check your damn email for a few hours. Or just resist the temptation to open new ones. But we're too weak-willed for that: instead we need a button that tricks us into thinking we're controlling the deluge. In short, Inbox Pause is an innovation for which there's no rational need, which treats its users like impulsive toddlers. To any self-disciplined adult, it's an insult.

I've been using it for several weeks now, and I love it.

Forty years after Alvin Toffler popularised the term "information overload", we might as well admit this: our efforts to fight it have failed. Unless you're willing to be radical – to give up the internet completely, say – the recommended cures don't work. Resolve to check your email twice daily, and you'll find many more messages waiting when you do. Go on an "information diet", and it's likely to end like any other diet: you'll succumb and consume the bad stuff, with extra guilt. So maybe we need to reframe things. The real problem isn't too much information: it's the feeling of being out of control. Why not focus, then, on finding ways to feel more in control – even if that's based, in part, on self-deception?

When Google launched Priority Inbox, which sifts email into "important" and "everything else", I was sceptical: prioritisation systems mainly involve pointlessly reordering your to-do list. But friends who swear by it don't really use it to prioritise: they use it as a guiltless way to ignore the non-important emails entirely, and thus feel more in command. The Boomerang app, for Gmail andOutlook, lets you fling emails away, then have them redelivered later; while they're gone, things are calmer, even though your email burden hasn't changed. I do something similarly delusional with the hundreds of web pages I bookmark for later reading. These used to exert a subtle, anxiety-inducing tug on me. Now I capture a page in the note-taking application Evernote, label it with the tag "to read" and file it away. Frequently, I never read it. But it works: the information feels tamed. The tug is gone. I'm in control, so I'm happy.

This is irrational, but then the whole idea of getting stressed by information is suffused with irrationality. There are millions of information sources we could, in theory, keep up with, but only a few that we tell ourselves we must – and the distinction's pretty arbitrary. I try to answer all personal emails, but I don't worry about answering all personal Twitter messages. The pile of books-to-be-read on my desk glowers at me, but I never feel anxious about the vast amounts of reading matter waiting, undiscovered, on the web. So why not fight irrationality with irrationality? Worry less about reducing the information tide. Look instead for ways to reduce its stressfulness – and if that means fooling yourself with pause buttons, boomerangs and the like… who cares? In the war against overload, we need every weapon we can lay our hands on.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow Oliver on Twitter

Source :
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/nov/02/change-you-life-information-overload

Categorized in Science & Tech

Do you check your text messages while giving your child a bath? Do you take your Blackberry with you on romantic walks with your spouse? Or do you feel a compulsive need to check email even though you know you have other tasks to finish?

If so, you may be suffering from online overload. The fast pace of the Internet can accustom your brain to constant new stimulus, so that it may have trouble adjusting to the slower pace of activities like gardening or playing with your child.

If you fear your online life is taking a toll, try a few of these tips:

1. Keep a record of your online life.

Find out how much time you really spend online, and what you’re doing with it, by tracking your usage. Note how you feel before and during your time at the computer. Many people tend to go online when they are feeling bored, lonesome, or anxious.

2. Set time limits for your Internet use.

Give yourself a specific time period—say, an hour—to answer personal emails, update your Facebook page, and check texts. After that, turn off the computer (or phone) and do something offline.

3. At least once a month, spend an entire day offline.

From the time you wake up till the time you go to sleep, avoid any contact with the Internet. No PDA, no email, no IM, no blogs.

4. Gaze out the window.

Take a break for a few minutes to stare out the window. This can help train your brain to slow down a bit.

5. At work, take an offline hour.

During this hour, get things done! Just go to Control Panel / Network (on Windows) or System Preferences / Network and click “Disable/Disconnect”. Use this time to do your offline work – write memos, write press releases, whatever your job requires. If you really NEED to get stuff from the Internet, write it down and move to the next item on your to-do list. No matter what, only go back online after the hour has passed. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done while offline.

6. Establish regular Internet/phone-free times.

For example, never check your messages between 6 and 9 p.m.

7. Create controls to keep you within your limits.

The Firefox extension PageAddict offers one solution to limit the time you waste browsing the web. For each group of websites you define using tags, you can specify the number of minutes you allow yourself to spend daily. Once you reach the daily limit on the group, you’ll be met with the message get back to work! page access blocked by pageaddict.

8. Make a phone call.

Sometimes our infatuation with the web makes us forget the joy of hearing a friend’s voice, and having actual, out-loud banter. Better yet, call your friend to make a date to spend some time together outside.

9. Reduce email interruption.

Set up two separate email accounts, one for your personal life and one for your professional life. Get better anti-spam filtering, so that your Inbox only contains real messages. Archive messages and move as much stuff out of your Inbox as possible. This will all help make your online time more efficient so you can get off faster.

10. Get tested for addiction

According to the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, you may have a problem if loved ones are becoming troubled with the amount of time you are devoting to the Internet or if you experience guilt or shame. They offer a virtual Internet addiction test that can help you determine whether it might be time to shut down.

11. Think about other things you loved to do before you discovered the Internet.

Re-discover reading, exercising, meeting up with friends in person, going to the movies and hiking. Don’t become anti-social and let your mind go to mush.

See also: Take Control of Family Tech Time

12. If you are dating online, only email back and forth a few times with your potential date.

Relationships happen in person; the longer you wait to meet the more awkward it will be when you do. Make sure you are in a safe position before you meet, but don’t drag on an email correspondence longer than necessary.

13. Always go online with a purpose.

Say to yourself, “I am going to check my email and buy a bathing suit.” Do said tasks and don’t wander off to explore silly websites/message boards.

See also: 10 Ways to Use Technology to Find What You Want

14. Try to stay off websites that are addictive.

These include Facebook, MySpace, Xanga, MyYearbook, and Photobucket. If you have problems getting off of these sites, just have someone else block them using your built-in Content Advisor. If you’re using Windows Vista, use the parental controls to control Internet access and time on computer.

15. Know you are not alone.

Internet addiction is becoming more and more common and more and more well known. Do not be embarrassed. Find others with the same problem and help each other beat it. 

Source:
http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/how-to-save-your-brain-from-online-overload/

Categorized in Science & Tech

From reading emails to managing status updates on mobile devices 24/7 with an all-you-can-eat data plan - we are consuming information like never before.

 

Forget about describing bytes as mega and giga, think exa and zettabecause by 2016 there may be the data equivalent of every movie ever made hurtling across the internet every three minutes.

While that may seem like way too much for a person to watch, an academic study by the University of California, San Diego, suggests that current data levels are the equivalent of each US citizen consuming 12 hours of information - or media - each day.

An average US citizen on an average day, it says, consumes 100,500 words, whether that be email, messages on social networks, searching websites or anywhere else digitally.

In this photo illustration the Twitter website is displayed on a mobile phone at a NRL match
In some cases, talking about an event is more important than the experience

And as the university says we sleep for seven hours a day, in practice that means that three quarters of waking time is spent receiving information, the majority of which is electronic.

But the definition of "media consumption" is hazy and any difference between seeing something and actively reading it, is, in statistics, difficult to differentiate.

"If you are on the computer and the TV is on, Nielsen [a television measurement firm] still call it watching TV," says co-author of the report Professor Roger Bohn, of UC San Diego.

"In principle, you can have more than 24 hours of consumption in a day."

 

Tasered with a text

 

So with there still being the same 24 hours in a day, more information is being circulated in the same amount of time, leading to something that has been titled as "information overload".

 

And that is a problem that is beginning to get noticed.

"A lot of this is a user interface problem," says author and New York Times journalist Nick Bilton.

"Things are designed to really grab your attention. When you get a text message, your phone vibrates, it dings, you have to respond to it."

 

And what this means is that real life conversations are being interrupted by digital distractions.

Bilton added: "It's like if I wanted to have a conversation with you and I zapped you with a taser and held a stop sign in front of your face.

"It wouldn't be a nice way to talk to you."

But what is this information that is being received?

 

Take for example, the tweets passing through Twitter at a rate of around 100,000 a minute. Research commissioned by The Harvard Business Review says that only 36% of tweets from a user's feeds are worth reading.

And the use of the internet as a whole is being linked with addiction that could affect one in 10 people.

Those with the condition, a report found, felt similar effects to those addicted to alcohol, cocaine or cannabis.

 

Information society

 

But the internet is seen as something more integral to a modern way of life than those addictions.

A man works on a booth as preparations are under way for the CeBIT IT fair on February 28, 2011 in Hanover
Digital information has become an integral part of many people's lives

So much so that inventor of the world wide web Tim Berners-Lee believes that access to the web has become a human right.

"It's possible to live without the web," he told an MIT symposium.

 

"It's not possible to live without water. But if you've got water, then the difference between somebody who is connected to the web and is part of the information society, and someone who [is not] is growing bigger and bigger."

The influence of the internet has now grown so much that some people are going to extreme lengths to escape "overload".

 

Technology journalist Paul Miller has given up the internet for a year.

"Every conversation feels informed by the internet in some way, or like it will end up on the internet some way," he wrote.

If you want to comment on his escapades, you can reach him not on Twitter, or by email, but by phone or writing a letter to his PO Box.

To many people, this will feel almost nostalgically old-fashioned.

The world wide web is still only 23 years old.

Source : news.bbc.co.uk

Categorized in Science & Tech

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 Science & Tech

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 :
http://www.steamfeed.com/state-information-overload/

Categorized in Science & Tech

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