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  1. 1. Handling information overload A workshop on methods, technologies, and a measure of sanity May 2009
  2. 2. Plan of attack <ul><li>Introductions </li></ul><ul><li>Conceptual and historical overview </li></ul><ul><li>How to use existing tools less insanely </li></ul><ul><li>Some (possibly) new tools which could help </li></ul><ul><li>Several methodologies </li></ul><ul><li>(some in slides, some in wiki, some out loud) </li></ul>
  3. 3. 1. Introductions <ul><li>Hit the wiki! </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>or </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  4. 4. 2. Prodding the problem <ul><li>Too much content </li></ul><ul><li>Too many venues, services, venues </li></ul><ul><li>Interruptions and distractions </li></ul><ul><li>Digital and print </li></ul><ul><li>Hard to find what’s valuable </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>“ Information Anxiety ” - Richard Saul Wurman (1989) </li></ul><ul><li>&quot; information pollution &quot; - Jakob Nielsen (2003, ) </li></ul><ul><li>“ We Have the Information You Want, But Getting It Will Cost You: Being Held Hostage by Information Overload ” - Mark R. Nelson (2004, ) </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>“ email bankruptcy ” - Sherry Turkle (2002, NYTimes, “In Lost E-Mail, a Dividend”) </li></ul><ul><li>&quot; email apnea ” - Linda Stone (2008, </li></ul><ul><li> ) </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Library of Babel ” – Jorge Luis Borges (1941) </li></ul><ul><li>The battle for eyeballs – hallmark of our time </li></ul>
  7. 7. Historical antecedents <ul><li>But first, a bit of media literacy criticism: </li></ul><ul><li>“ [T]his discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. …” </li></ul>
  8. 8. Antecedents <ul><li>And: </li></ul><ul><li>“… The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth…” </li></ul>
  9. 9. Antecedents <ul><li>Even worse: </li></ul><ul><li>“… they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.” </li></ul><ul><li>-Plato, Phaedrus (370 or so BCE) </li></ul><ul><li>Jowett translation </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Early modern information overload, 1685: </li></ul><ul><li>“ We have reason to fear that the multitude of books which grows every day in a prodigious fashion will make the following centuries fall into a state as barbarous as that of the centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire…” </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>“… Unless we try to prevent this danger by separating those books which we must throw out or leave in oblivion from those which one should save and within the latter between what is useful and what is not.” </li></ul><ul><li>-Adrien Baillet, Jugemens des sçavans sur les principaux ouvrages des auteurs (Paris, 1685) </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>One response to too much information: the humble marginal annotation </li></ul><ul><li>Glossators (Franciscus Accursius, Denis Godefroi) </li></ul><ul><li>Then the Geneva Bible </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Managing texts, readers </li></ul>(Early English Books Online)
  14. 14. Antecedents Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Rime of the Ancient Mariner - second edition, 1817 (Virginia e-text)
  15. 15. <ul><li>Another response to overload </li></ul><ul><li>Cyclopedia (Ephraim Chambers, 1728) </li></ul><ul><li>Encyclopedie (1751-1772) </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Another response to overload </li></ul><ul><li>Cyclopedia (Ephraim Chambers, 1728) </li></ul><ul><li>Encyclopedie (1751-1772) </li></ul><ul><li>(Another precursor, lacking the technology: Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae, 636) </li></ul>
  17. 17. Back to the future <ul><li>Before the blogosphere </li></ul><ul><li>“ hupomnemata … consisted of notebooks or aide-memoires in which one could write down examples and relfections, in order to work on the self, and to produce the truth about oneself...” </li></ul>
  18. 18. Back to the future <ul><li>“ In other words, by writing down things learned, one can create a &quot;treasure&quot; constituting &quot;reminders&quot; which one might need to call upon when one's memory is weak... “ </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Jeremy W. Crampton, The Political Mapping of Cyberspace (2004, 91-92) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. 3. How to use existing tools less insanely <ul><li>Email practices </li></ul><ul><li>Folders </li></ul><ul><li>Search </li></ul><ul><li>Tags </li></ul><ul><li>Notifications? </li></ul><ul><li>Alerts </li></ul><ul><li>Send less </li></ul><ul><li>Send to fewer </li></ul><ul><li>Processing routine </li></ul><ul><li>Not continuous </li></ul><ul><li>Minimize contact </li></ul><ul><li>“ dashes” (43folders) </li></ul><ul><li>or quick kills </li></ul><ul><li>Serious To-do folder </li></ul>
  20. 20. How to use existing tools less insanely <ul><li>Calendars </li></ul><ul><li>Not a good place to stash some to-do’s </li></ul><ul><li>Useful tool for some tasks </li></ul><ul><li>What works best for you? </li></ul><ul><li>Say it! </li></ul>
  21. 21. 5. Methodologies <ul><li>Getting Things Done </li></ul><ul><li>“ Inbox” process </li></ul><ul><li>Task atoms </li></ul><ul><li>Weekly review </li></ul><ul><li>Lists </li></ul><ul><li>Projects </li></ul><ul><li>tasks </li></ul>
  22. 22. Social filtering <ul><li>Take advantage of others’ passions and time </li></ul><ul><li>Crowdsourcing variant </li></ul><ul><li>Practice: building up trusted sources </li></ul><ul><li>Practice: contributing </li></ul>
  23. 23. Automatic aggregation <ul><li>Google News </li></ul>
  24. 24. Automatic aggregation <ul><li>Google News </li></ul>