Magazine article Techniques

E-Glut Is Not Hopeless

Magazine article Techniques

E-Glut Is Not Hopeless

Article excerpt

Rapidly threatening to get out of hand, a wide-ranging information glut is already causing as much pressure, tension and frustration as it is easing "getting out the work." E-- mail is a good example of virtue once again turning into vice. But this is not inevitable.

Being able to access an infinite quantity of information and then "massage" that information almost instantly would seem to be a databased heaven on earth. With PCs, the Web and more, what used to be wishful thinking has become reality. Appropriate hardware and software, leveraged by expertise to use it properly, should create an enviable situation.

Unfortunately, people continue to find the resulting "infoglut" a mixed blessing. It should have been expected that, like everything else, both pros and cons would exist. This natural law was long ignored, however, and only recently has it begun to catch up with users--and with a vengeance!

Building upon computer technology, virtual universities and distance learning are ever more common. E-commerce via the Internet is growing explosively. Studies have predicted 62 million households online by 2002.

In a more specific sense, the over-- arching problem is epitomized in e-- mail. "Because everyone is using it" is becoming more fact than hype. One can easily become as swamped in electronic messages as flooded with information generally. Amazement at--and appreciation of--such rapid, easy and worldwide communication ability soon fade however. Pressure to check the electronic in-basket daily, if not more often, and to answer all messages promptly can create tension and irritability. As with physical paperwork, falling behind the inflow, despite one's best efforts, creates frustration and, ultimately, despair. Morale and productivity decline, and the bottom line suffers.

Hope for improvement exists, however. The situation can be turned around, even before e-mail becomes universal. As with other problems great and small, deliberate control must be exercised by those involved--in ways both obvious and imaginative. Managers especially should recall that in the classic approach to their discipline, this process is a key management function, basic to the job, and it applies as much to e-mail as to any other area.

One easily overlooked partial solution is to be very reluctant to supply your e-- mail address. Do so as rarely as possible. Granted, it can require difficult suppression of the ego. You will not be able to appear as, or brag about, being a with-it techie. The payoff will be real, though: a much-less-cluttered electronic in-basket.

A related suggestion is to resist the urge to buy all those things becoming available on Web sites of every description. Don't send for anything that is "free." The appeal to greed is usually a come-on for getting your e-mail identification for further use. …

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