Quiz: How information overloadeded are you

Beth Kanter has an amusing quiz for to test your your personal information overload.  How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media: Information Coping Skills - How Information Overloaded Are You? Take This Quiz

So, here's what I'd like you to do - look at the questions and see if they make sense for social media and information overload and suggest changes. I'm trying to look at social productivity here as well - there's a fine line there. And, if you want, take the quiz, it is easy. Answer yes or no to the questions below. Count up the number of questions you responded with a "yes" and then see how information overloaded you are using this chart. Leave me a comment with any tips or suggestions for reducing information overload.

Before you take the quiz, I would like to note that I saw something within the past few weeks that essentially said this "information overload" meme is not really a problem of overload, but of behavior.  The item I read basically said that people have had "too much information" to deal with well before the internet became a ubiquitous part of our lives.  With newspapers, magazines, books, TV, radio, people generally had to decide what to read and what to leave on the compost heap - or just not buy in the first place.*  The comment was that with electronic information, people haven't figured out how to decide on a reasonable line of "too much."  It is the behavior that's the problem, not the fact that there is lots of stuff to consume.

That said, my score on Beth's quiz is 5, which is relatively low (according to the comments on her post) because I've made the effort to deal with this personally.  Here are some of my thoughts on each item.

  1. Yes, at times.  It's easy for me to get into a response, check for information needed in the response, find something interesting, do some other work, ..., and finally get back to completing the response.
  2. No.  I keep this in my contacts, so even if I forget the specifics, I can dig it up quickly - ActiveWords makes this particularly easy.  I even record birthdays as people mention them (on Twitter).
  1. Yes.  I get up, get coffee, and come back at it.  Most of my work is at the computer and on the phone.
  2. No (sorta).  I'm not in fear of missing something, but when I am feeling fidgety, it is easy to check email or Twitter or do some blog catchup to distract the fidgets.
  3. No.  While I take the phone to "private places," I might also spend the weekend disconnected and hanging with the family.
  4. Yes, sadly.
  5. No.  I am subscribed to so many I can't keep up, but I have blogs categorized and scan those that are lower priority (or that write too much for me).  I make infrequent attempts at paring down my reads.
  6. No.  Just as with blogs, I only scan the current tweets.  And with email lists and non-personal stuff, I typically scan.  I've also been paring out email lists.
  1. Yes.  Even though I will happily spend the weekend with the family, I do like to get back to my friends.
  2. Yes.  I will open tabs for things I want to read or comment on, and it will be days (or weeks) before I actually get to them.  And sometimes, I will just delete the tab after a quick scan, wondering why it was so important at the time.
  1. While I am not afraid to delete email, I do file stuff away into appropriate folders.  Attachments go into PersonalBrain for easy retrieval and so my mail folders don't get overly bloated.

    * There are of course people who keep a massive pile of physical stuff they'll never get to next to their reading chairs, such as a certain family member of mine.

    2 Comment(s)

    Beth Author Profile Page said:


    You actually scored the lowest so far - so what are your tips?

    Ton Zijlstra said:

    Hi Jack,
    I've been convinced that information overload is just us feeling our own info strategies fail for a long time. Ever since the first BlogWalk in 2004 basically (you commented on my posting that info-overload does not exist back then too btw).
    And that we need to build new routines and strategies to match our changed environment.

    As information scales exponentially due to the networked character of the infrastructures that create that abundance (mobile communications and internet creating many more connections, thus increasing the speed of change and thus the flow of information), our answer needs to be exponential as well, or more precisely, have a networked character as well.

    Hence my embrace of social filtering, and relying on my networks to inform me. Hence my interest in complexity, pattern finding, community structures, connectivism/networked learning etc.

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