Click Here To Purchase Overload! How Too Much Information is Hazardous to your Organization

Author: Jonathan B. Spira

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons.
ISBN: 9780470879603

Among those researchers who track large-scale societal trends, buzzwords come and go: “paradigm shift,” “event horizon” and – my favorite – “bizmeth” (which is shorthand for “business methods.”) The latest and suddenly inescapable phrase to gain the imprimatur of the cutting-edge-phrase coiners is “Information Overload.” If you haven’t yet heard this buzzword, you must be one of the ten people or fewer on Planet Earth not currently suffering from it.

The rest of us know it all too well, the feeling of being perpetually besieged by text messages, e-mails, 24-hour cable-TV news, on-line video and audio streaming, and voice mail. And that’s all before we’ve drained the first cup of coffee.

So the natural tendency for anyone so afflicted would probably be to avoid reading a book about the phenomenon. Who wants to spend what precious free time one has reading about what’s robbing us of our free time in the first place?

You will, if the book is Jonathan Spira’s Overload! How Too Much Information is Hazardous to Your Organization. (An uninspiring title that conveys precious little of the book’s appeal). Spira has written a user-friendly – dare I even say “absorbing”? – book about a serious but generally boring-sounding problem. Fortunately, Spira seems aware of the trap of merely piling on one dull-but-telling statistic after another. His book is a vibrant tour through the landscape of communication technology and the many-headed hydra of the information stream.

Spira, a founding board member of the Information Overload Research Group (now there’s an office party I’d like to crash), has written a book that is much more than a compendium of fact. There’s a philosophical aspect to the work, a sort of recurring plea that “knowledge workers” make the time to reflect, to create, to unplug: “Since the underpinnings of knowledge work are thought and reflection, it’s ironic, to say the least, that these activities take up a mere five percent of the day.”

Overload! ranges freely over a multitude of topics, from the development of the printed book (with an interesting digression into the use of papyrus scrolls), and the changes that it engendered, to a comprehensive critique of the utility of most e-mails, to an enthralling (and a little scary) view of the future. Spira writes with great gusto and knowledge, deeply informed and passionate about what we need to do to tame the technological beasts that are ravaging our time and attention span.

What I liked about the book is, for all of Spira’s erudition, there’s a human heart at the center of his thesis. Spira never forgets that this information explosion hasn’t happened in a vacuum, but among thinking, feeling human beings, and he spends a lot of time discussing the human toll – not just the dollars and cents – of giving in to this onslaught of information. He frequently reminds the reader of the stakes: “The changes in how we use and view information that will happen over the next half-century will not only reshape the globe but turn it inside out,” he argues. “This will in turn change how we view the concept of home, our home and work lives, our business and personal relationships, and perhaps even our national loyalties.”

In the burgeoning sub-genre of books about information overload, Spira has written what must be considered one of the definitive texts. Reading it won’t add to your feeling of information overload but rather offer you the perspective necessary to begin managing this worrisome trend, to recapture your life, and to, in Spira’s words, “bring back more time for thought and reflection.”

Thought and Reflection – how nice it would be if THEY became the next big buzzwords.

Click Here To Purchase Overload! How Too Much Information is Hazardous to your Organization