As the volume of available information increases, individuals and organisations become overwhelmed by the plethora of information. This can reduce productivity and performance, hinder learning and innovation, affect decision making and well-being and cost organisations large amounts of money. This paper develops a new theory-based model of factors affecting information overload and provides a formula for calculating the extent of overload, potentially of use as a diagnostic tool supporting individual or organisational development.
Theory-based model of factors affecting information overload - <download the paper>
This particular study, which focussed upon email usage in organisations, made an important contribution, by not only confirming that employees do become seriously overloaded by email messages, but also by demonstrating that this is a function of both the volume of emails, and the ways in which employees interact with the technology. Although there has been much prior research on email overload, this study is very different in that it is the first ever model to be published that shows the interrelating weighted factors for information overload.
Moreover, this modelling process could now be applied in many different areas connected with information management where a diagnostic tool is required to help measure and manage informational workloads, in a variety of different organisational contexts.
The impact of this study has been evidenced through an invitation to give a prestigious keynote presentation, this time in Australia.
Here's a trailer of Information Overload:
Here's an attempt to demonstrate Information Overload to undergraduate students in a lecture theatre using a remote controlled helicopter (film taken by a student):
You will see on the second projector screen a twitter feed - the idea being students can tweet during the lecture about things they don't understand. Oh the maturity of some students!