Suffering from Information Overload

It’s that time of year when everyone starts making resolutions for the new year. Of course, you end up dropping them by this time anyway. I always seem to have the problem of information overload. It’s one of the hazards of what I do for a living. For better or worse, I am an information professional, so dealing with information is what I do. However, often times I get bogged down in all the information that I consume on a daily basis.

There are many tools out there than can help one organize the information they digest. Many in my profession laud the value of the RSS Feed Reader. One the one hand it is helpful to have one place to keep track of all the website that you are interested in. However, I have found that I never check mine and it sits for weeks on end, just racking up stories. Personally, I have found myself relying on social media for news and pertinent information. I have added many of the same blogs and website to my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I find this a better way to keep up-to-date on information because I am already logged into these social networks to see what my friends are up to.

Sometimes, I think that some of us have a fear of “missing out” on important information. Or we play into the sensationalism that media outlets count on. Recently, I heard a story on NPR about an upcoming book called The Information Diet. The author, Clay Johnson, posits that many of is suffer from information gluttony. We consume too much information that is clogging our brains. He makes a case for “conscious consumption” of news and information.  In the interview, Johnson spoke about the fact that most of us do have a wealth of information at our fingertips due to the Internet. However, he makes a very interesting point about the quality of that information. This is one of the things I personally and professionally strive for. (Sidenote: I have requested this book be purchased for my library’s collection.)

So if you feel overwhelmed with your current consumption of information, put yourself on a diet. Find a tool that categorizes the information you know you want and need to consume. Turn off the TV, close the computer or turn off your cell phone. I personally love it when I go “off-grid” and spent quality time with family or read a good book.

About Theresa

I am a reference librarian currently working in North Carolina. I have always been passionate about history, education and the value of books in all of their forms. I also love how quickly we can access information through the immediacy of the web, especially social networks like Facebook and Twitter. I look forward to growing in my chosen profession.
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One Response to Suffering from Information Overload

  1. I truly empathize with your information overload quandary– I wrote about it on my blog late last year. (I fall for free e-books.) When I first started using an RSS reader, I let mine languish. However, in the past year, I’ve started refering to it daily to track the latest industry news, and I use folders to categorize the feeds. Usually, my twitter feed is the key to finding other blogs and news outlets to follow. I also create lists in my Twitter feed, making it easier to filter news. Thanks for your article– I enjoyed it, and will be putting Johnson’s book on my “to read” list.

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