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Wednesday
Mar302011

Fewer Updates, Better Decisions

Photo: StefanWhich news and updates do you really need to know today? Coming off a conference around real-time technology I was enjoying my last evening in Paris alone winding down with a simple dinner in a neighborhood place. After ordering my first drink I found myself in a discussion with a Belgian man sitting at the table next to me. He was just finishing his "Liberation" paper and we started talking about newspapers in general, acceleration of human life and the little time left to think. I jumped to the defense of technology pointing out benefits of direct, unmoderated access to information and that we always have the choice to opt-out. What followed was his passionate response vehemently insisting that speed is not good, even the printed newspaper on his table was far too real-time for his taste. Instead, he said we need to look at news and information with a delay, days, preferably weeks. Noticing my puzzled face he backed his claim up with a story long time ago about working in a remote village of Alaska where he did not have access to news. When he came back after three weeks he read that England was at War with Argentina, which he didn't see coming and found entirely absurd. He argued, that the public can only buy into insanity if it is fed with incremental updates which are almost unnoticeable by themselves but ultimately add up to something unacceptable. I think he is right, real time might contribute to just that: less perspective and bad outcomes.   

Reader Comments (3)

I think we do not need to delay information or news. All we have to do is to switch off everything when it is enough. If you do not use a media hardware like a tv or smartphone no news will reach you even in paris or new york. I think we do not need to change big things but small.

Mar 31 | Unregistered CommenterDirk

Very good article Stefan. I am personally also trapped in this always on and looking for updates, wether it be on news channels or social media plattforms. I read an article saying this is genetically inside of us humans, we always need to know what's happening around us and not miss sthg to survive (thinking back in history to the era of hunting and collecting).

But by reflecting this and also your discurs shows, it is clearly better to have some distance to this overwhelming input in our era of informatin overflow. And also not being always externally steered and manipulated giving yourself time for reflection and an own opinion.

In some companies first steps in this direction are already taken e.g. by introducing two Email or completely internet free afternoons per week. This gives the employees time for thinking only and brain work. Another method could be to only work two times for 2 hours per day on emails. This helps to reduce all the multi-tasking, which is clearly and proofen by countless scientific tests reducing effectiveness and quality of results.

By the way great site and articles. Already looking forward to your next articles. Best, Florian :)

Apr 2 | Unregistered CommenterFlorian

Thanks for your comments Dirk & Florian. Florian, feel free to contribute a post! Btw, I am thinking of adding a section "unchain@work" touching on business lifestyle - had a first article in mind on what is means to put someone on cc/ in an email and how to reduce stress with considerate use of cc/

Apr 4 | Registered CommenterStefan

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