Why some people don’t care about information overload

A post by business writer Tom Davenport at a Harvard Business Review blog explains it all for us:

I gave a presentation this week on decision-making, and someone in the
audience asked me if I thought information overload was an impediment
to effective decision-making. "Information overload…yes, I remember
that concept. But no one cares about it anymore," I replied. In fact,
nobody ever did.

He offers a few shaky reasons for why information overload is not a problem, then concludes:

So the next time you hear someone talking or read someone writing about
information overload, save your own attention and tune that person out.
Nobody's ever going to do anything about this so-called problem, so
don't overload your own brain by wrestling with the issue.

Link: Why we don't care about information overload.

Wow. It's the kind of inane, superficial article I'd expect from somebody trying to write with one eye on their blackberry.

For some intelligent material on the topic, I recommend the Information Overload Research Group and Nathan Zeldes's blog Challenge Information Overload.

Relying on Google a little too much

Michael Zimmer has an amusing/scary story about a student's unquestioning use of Google: it's reported at Crooked Timber and Michael's blog (which appears to be down).

Speaking of Google, I just learned of Google's holiday card offer. If you can't be bothered to send a snail mail card to your pathetic relatives who are "stuck in the pre-digital age" then Google will do it for you (except that they've run out already). And, yes, that's just the way they describe it.

In privacy news, Eric Schmidt apparently forgot his talking points and said this in an interview: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." (quoted at Gawker; here's a response from security expert Bruce Schneier.)

Mechanization Takes Command

MechanizationTakesCommand A classic book that is often cited in studies of the history and social impact of technology is Sigfried Giedion's 1948 Mechanization Takes Command. Lucky for us the always-excellent New York Review Books is bringing it back into print (March 2010). From the description:

Sigfried Giedion's extraordinary, encyclopedic book traces the various
ways in which, for better and for worse, mechanization has assumed
control of our lives, from modern systems of hygiene and waste
management, to agricultural production, fashion, and beyond.

Giedion's
book is not only clearly written but also eloquent and thoughtful in
its investigation of mechanization's reach and appeal, and it offers
fascinating insights into the intersection between mechanization and
the imagination, as manifested in literature and the visual arts. With
a wealth of unusual and intriguing illustrations taken from old sales
catalogues, industrial manuals, magazines, and other sources, Giedion's
book constitutes a remarkable and endlessly suggestive history of
modernity itself, as comprehensive as it is provocative and eccentric.

Link: Mechanization Takes Command.

Update (June 5 2010): looks like it's been canceled.