Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

New Research Shows Information Overload Contributes to Worker Productivity

SOMEWHERE, APRIL 1, 2011 - Surprising new research was released today revealing that workers become more increasingly productive the more they are interrupted. The study carried out by "Association for Distraction and Information Overload" or something like that, (I was listening to a podcast when I read the report) found that people struggle to complete routine tasks when not accompanied by text message alerts, computer desktop pop-up windows, or their colleague's incessant Justin Bieber ringtones. The study, entitled "Information Overload ... What Was I Thinking About Anyway?" surveyed 500 business workers. Of those, only 240 were able to actually complete the survey uninterrupted, but what the hay, it's good enough for us.

"I was mildly surprised by the findings, but it's not the first time we have had to re-evaluate how we think about technology," said Nedd Ludd, curator of the Future of Technology History Museum and author of the best-selling Whatever Overwhelms You Is Good for You. "I was more surprised by last year's study that found that increased exposure to teen sitcoms actually lowers IQ score," referring a ten year, multi-million dollar study that rocked the foundation of the education establishment.

The information overload study also found that high school student's grades improved markedly when student's engaged in additional forms of distraction. "Facebook, IM, text messages, iPods, telephones ... bring it on! That's the message of the research," said J. Guttenberg, author of the study. Guttenberg also added that reading and contemplation were found to reduce a student's ability to succeed at video games and slowed down their ability to text message while driving. "We are concerned by the amount of books still being read by today's teenager. Time wasted reading books, especially the classics, is negatively impacting our youth's ability to compete in tomorrow's world. When compared to Chinese and Indian peers, we find our youth just isn't spending enough hours multitasking. The results could be catastrophic for the future of our country," warns Guttenberg.

Others concur. Professor Phineas J. Whiggish, professor of progressive history at online university U OuttaLine, says that the results of the study portend dire consequences for the future of higher education in this country. In response, U OuttaLine plans to introduce a revolutionary new sensory saturation program. In addition to conventional online lectures and podcasts, the program offers students the option of over-stimulation of multiple senses. For example, online lecture videos are displayed on top of a window of rapidly-changing, random Internet pages, with staccato background music thrown in for good measure. Students also have the option to sign up for distracting text messages that are sent periodically throughout the lectures. The text messaging option is free as part of an introductory offer, OMG. Prices and availability of the sensory saturation program are not available ...

What was I talking about again? I forgot. I am already thinking about my next post ... and where did I leave my keys, anyway. Happy April Fool's Day 2011.