We’re encompassed by gadgets that demand our attention, constantly dividing our capacity to appropriately focus on the task at hand. Living with technology doesn’t mean we have to live with an addiction. We have come to a point where we cannot live without gadgets. It’s shocking! The truth is we have become addicts.
The average person today consumes almost three times as much information as what the typical person consumed in 1960, according to research at the University of California, San Diego. In a world where smart phones are transforming into all-purpose devices that can take the place of specialized technology, the popularity of devices like the e-reader and the MP3 player is slowly declining. However, there are always more new state-of-the-art gadgets entering the marketplace promising to save you time and make your life easier.
Are we living in a gadget-overload world? Is it necessary or even worth it?
We devour three times the data now as we did 50 years prior, yet the problem of information overload isn’t new. Thanks to the Gutenberg press, by the year 1500 there were a larger number of books accessible than the average literate citizen would ever read in their lifetime. We’ve had a ludicrous measure of information accessible to us for a long, long time and it continues to grow. We keep looking at the growth, and the increasing rate of growth, like it’s a new epidemic. In reality, we’re allowing information overload to happen to us. As Clay Shirky points out, the problem has more to do with filter failure.
One viable method of managing information overload is to organize the information. This may be an obvious one, but most of us think more about organization than actually doing it. You’re going to get organized at some point, so you might as well start now (if you haven’t, that is). Email is one of the toughest things to get under control and there are more solutions out there than you could ever really try. Google’s new Priority Inbox is a great new way to focus on the important messages in your inbox. A Chrome and Firefox extension called Boomerang lets you schedule when you send and receive emails. Communicating through speed appropriate channels rather than funnelling everything through email can help, too. You can even offload distractions to an iPad, or another device you have, so you can focus on specific things on specific devices. In any case you arrange your data, simply make sure to advance your framework to fit changes in the way your data streams.