We’ve written a lot about overload. Most of the time at Bscopes we are addressing the problem of trying to read too many blogs and websites. It’s our position that we’ve addressed the most common issues in our secret sauce with the Bscopes Heatmap as a tool to survive it.
Now into the second decade of the 21st century (does that make you feel old?), people are discussing a number of different sources that make them feel overloaded.
Here’s a list of the Top 5 other overload sources that we see:
1. News Overload:
Some folks are news junkies. They want (need) to consume the latest news. Despite the death of “old” media like newspapers, there is more news than ever before. And tons of sources. And almost as many content aggregators — from google news to vertical niche aggregators like Techmeme. The Bscopes secret sauce uses frequency and update interval to account for news feeds that spew content into our space.
2. Internet Marketing Overload:
If you google “overload” and look at blogs and websites, this discussion is everywhere. Apparently not only do marketers talk (and sell and market) but they talk to each other. So much so that anyone trying to learn about using the Internet for marketing seems to get overloaded very quickly. This is best controlled with a simple filter and put into its place.
3. Social Network Overload:
This is a newer form of overload. Robert Scoble seems to find the limits of each new social networking site out there. People have been complaining for a while about Facebook Overload and how they can’t keep up with the river of information in their Twitter stream. Now, within weeks of Google+ being opened up to users, people like Alexander McNabb are now complaining about how that is making them overloaded.
Google+ has finally pitched me into information overload. I’m dealing with too many streams of information and it’s becoming uncomfortable. I know I’m an unusually ‘connnected’ person: quite apart from the Twitter, Facebook, Blogger triangle, I handle reasonably large volumes of email and follow a lot of blogs and sites. I’m rarely truly offline. It’s one reason I find it funny when my bank tells me they tried to get in touch with me but couldn’t. I mean, there are people who actively try to avoid me and find it hard. It got so bad that when we returned from getting stuck under the Tikkipukkapokka, or whatever it was called, Icelandic ash cloud, I actually gave interviews to media amused that I had been caught offline in a totally analogue rural lighthouse.
We took special care to account for social streams in Bscopes Heatmaps. They are important but only in a temporal fashion. That is a text message or Tweet is HOT at the point it is written and does not typically have a lasting value. Nor does it have any value outside of the author and its recipient.
4. Conversation Overload:
I’d say this is superset of Social Network Overload. Certainly conversations occur there. They also occur via e-mail. And by Text Message. And even good, old, voice-mail tag. Folks like Tom Foremski complain about interpersonal aspect of this kind of overload:
As a journalist I have trouble keeping up with the conversations in my email, yet today I have conversations everywhere and in new places. There’s email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, my two blogs, then there are SMS messages, voicemail (which I never check) and the latest is: Google Plus.
The problem with conversations is that they are more important than not reading that great article… Conversations are with people that I work with, that I meet at conferences and events, potential business partners, friends, family, readers, supporters, and more. I want these conversations because I respect these people.
But I don’t want it to seem that I’m ignoring people or that I’m arrogant in some way, but I have to admit this — I can’t keep up! And I bet many others can’t keep up too.
I don’t know how many others. I once felt this way when I had a very different kind of job. But now, as a software developer with only one business partner, tools like GTD allow me to manage this well enough. But then again, I only follow two dozen people on twitter. And I let my wife tell me if I miss anything on Facebook. So maybe I’m not overloaded only by not participating. Or by being an anti-social nerd.
5. Cuteness Overload:
Ok. No so much the same kind of overload, Cuteness Overload still ranks very high if you search google for the word “overload”. And I certainly can get overloaded on cuteness almost instantly. Heck, I’m overloaded after even one picture of LOLCats. But, then again, I’m notably snarky.
Different? The Same?
Are these kinds of overload the same as what we’ve been discussing here on the Bscopes blog? Or are each of them fundamentally different? I can certainly see some similarities. Most importantly I think they all have the same effect on each of us. It provokes an emotional reaction. It triggers our fight or flight response and ups those stress hormones that are already too high in most of us.
What I’m not yet convinced of is if you can use the same tools to assist in each different kind of overload or if you need different tools for each job.
What This Means
I think it’s kind of a “straw that breaks the camel’s back” kind of issue. Any one of these is bad enough. But when you add each new fire hose of stuff coming at you… Well, it becomes overwhelming.
What Do You Do About It?
For some folks it is ostrich mode. You just bury your head and forget about it. You hope it goes away. For those folks, denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.
Some folks, like Kristi Hines, give out advice on how to get organized: she makes lists on Twitter and Facebook. She trims down her use of Stumbleupon. She’s a pro at Gmail lablels. She puts her RSS feeds into folders.
Techniques like that will take you far. For some folks you can even get far enough. For others, eventually the volume increases and the overload returns.
What Do You Want?
I won’t pretend to know all the answers here. But we are curious. Bscopes has focused so far on Blog Overload and helping to manage website URLs and RSS feeds.
Since you’re a Bscopes fanatic and have thoroughly digested the Heatmap technology, the question now is what else, if anything, should we include in Bscopes?
As always, your opinions are wanted. Leave a comment below.
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