Is Data Overload Killing Our Creativity?

The Neurological and Creative Toll of Digital Overload

If you’re like a lot of people, during your work day you might check 40 websites. You could be switching between programs such as Word and Excel and your email application 36 times an hour. You probably stop what you’re doing — or at least pause — when a text message buzzes or an email comes in or your cell phone rings.

Matt Richtel, technology reporter for the New York Times, says in an interview on the NPR program Fresh Air that for all the productivity upsides to digital consumption, there are huge downsides, too, including changes in the brain that seem to affect not just the ability to engage in conversation but the ability to be creative, too.

“Twenty years of glorifying all technology as if all computers were good and all use of it was good, I think science is beginning to embrace the idea that some technology is Twinkies and some technology is Brussels sprouts,” Richtel says. “If we consume too much technology, just like if we consume too much food, it can have ill effects. And that is the moment in time we find ourselves in . . .with the way we are digesting, if you will, technology all over the place.”

Richtel notices, he says, that he’s “not quite as engaged in my world when I’m constantly using devices as I am when I’m away from them.” Away from them, “I can give myself over to conversations a little bit differently.”

Awarded a Pulitzer Prize this year for his Times series “Driven to Distraction,” about the dangers of driving while multitasking with cell phones and other devices, Richtel says that the digital glut appears to not just increase distraction but decrease creativity.

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New York Times reporter Matt Richtel says that too much digital consumption and a steady stream of distraction appear to change the brain and affect our ability to be creative.

The Neurological and Creative Toll of Digital Overload

If you’re like a lot of people, during your work day you might check 40 websites. You could be switching between programs such as Word and Excel and your email application 36 times an hour. You probably stop what you’re doing — or at least pause — when a text message buzzes or an email comes in or your cell phone rings.

Matt Richtel, technology reporter for the New York Times, says in an interview on the NPR program Fresh Air that for all the productivity upsides to digital consumption, there are huge downsides, too, including changes in the brain that seem to affect not just the ability to engage in conversation but the ability to be creative, too.

“Twenty years of glorifying all technology as if all computers were good and all use of it was good, I think science is beginning to embrace the idea that some technology is Twinkies and some technology is Brussels sprouts,” Richtel says. “If we consume too much technology, just like if we consume too much food, it can have ill effects. And that is the moment in time we find ourselves in . . .with the way we are digesting, if you will, technology all over the place.”

Richtel notices, he says, that he’s “not quite as engaged in my world when I’m constantly using devices as I am when I’m away from them.” Away from them, “I can give myself over to conversations a little bit differently.”

Awarded a Pulitzer Prize this year for his Times series “Driven to Distraction,” about the dangers of driving while multitasking with cell phones and other devices, Richtel says that the digital glut appears to not just increase distraction but decrease creativity. Leer más “Is Data Overload Killing Our Creativity?”

10 Data Points: Information and Analytics at Work

The New Intelligent Enterprise inquiry is all about the intensifying wave of data that organizations are facing, and its implications for managers. Companies are becoming data driven in ways that are new, raw and — in many cases — untested. And now so are we: We’re trying something new by letting the data come first, without a lot of editing or parsing. Here is a slice of the raw goods, a kind of behind-the-scenes look at the data we gathered from our survey of nearly 3,000 managers and executives from every major industry and all regions of the globe. (Also see “10 Insights: A First Look at The New Intelligent Enterprise Survey.”)

We chose these 10 charts to share because they captured our attention. Some are provocative, some are telling, and some raise questions we haven’t even tried to answer yet. They’re by no means comprehensive, and our final report will cover many more points accompanied by rigorous analysis. But we do think you’ll find these graphics worth a look if for no other reason than that they allow you to do some immediate benchmarking. How does your organization compare with others? What are your peers doing, and how might that influence decisions you’re considering right now?

The survey respondents answered two questions that allowed us to group them and their answers in some interesting ways. One question asked them to assess where their organization is along the journey to an ideal state: an organization that has been “transformed by better ways to collect, analyze and be prescriptively guided by information.” Those that were farthest along that path we deemed Sophisticates; those who were midway became Intermediates; while those that were just beginning to look at data and analytics we called Starters.

We also asked them to describe their organization’s competitive position. Those that rated themselves as substantially outperforming their industry peers we named Top Performers. Those that were underperforming we labeled Lower Performers. You’ll note both groups called out in the accompanying charts.
1. Innovation is the Top Business Challenge

More than 60% of all respondents chose innovation for competitive differentiation as their main business challenge over the next two years. In a recessionary business climate, doing more with the resources and talent you already have is always a favored strategy. When we parsed the data, we found that Starters (new users of analytics) were entrenched in “survival mode,” focused on cuttings costs and creating efficiencies as their main challenge. Intermediates (moderate users of analytics) were in “growth mode,” focused on growing revenues. Sophisticates (advanced users of analytics) were in an “expansion mode,” focused on growing revenues and expanding their customer base through acquisition or retention strategies, perhaps because their use of analytics had already helped them optimize their operations and general growth approaches.


http://sloanreview.mit.edu/the-magazine/articles/2010/fall/521150/10-data-points-information-and-analytics-at-work/

By Nina Kruschwitz and Rebecca Shockley

Early returns are in from the first annual New Intelligent Enterprise Survey. Here are major highlights of what executives and managers said about how they are — or are not — capitalizing on information.


The New Intelligent Enterprise inquiry is all about the intensifying wave of data that organizations are facing, and its implications for managers. Companies are becoming data driven in ways that are new, raw and — in many cases — untested. And now so are we: We’re trying something new by letting the data come first, without a lot of editing or parsing. Here is a slice of the raw goods, a kind of behind-the-scenes look at the data we gathered from our survey of nearly 3,000 managers and executives from every major industry and all regions of the globe. (Also see “10 Insights: A First Look at The New Intelligent Enterprise Survey.”)

We chose these 10 charts to share because they captured our attention. Some are provocative, some are telling, and some raise questions we haven’t even tried to answer yet. They’re by no means comprehensive, and our final report will cover many more points accompanied by rigorous analysis. But we do think you’ll find these graphics worth a look if for no other reason than that they allow you to do some immediate benchmarking. How does your organization compare with others? What are your peers doing, and how might that influence decisions you’re considering right now?

The survey respondents answered two questions that allowed us to group them and their answers in some interesting ways. One question asked them to assess where their organization is along the journey to an ideal state: an organization that has been “transformed by better ways to collect, analyze and be prescriptively guided by information.” Those that were farthest along that path we deemed Sophisticates; those who were midway became Intermediates; while those that were just beginning to look at data and analytics we called Starters.

We also asked them to describe their organization’s competitive position. Those that rated themselves as substantially outperforming their industry peers we named Top Performers. Those that were underperforming we labeled Lower Performers. You’ll note both groups called out in the accompanying charts.

1. Innovation is the Top Business Challenge

More than 60% of all respondents chose innovation for competitive differentiation as their main business challenge over the next two years. In a recessionary business climate, doing more with the resources and talent you already have is always a favored strategy. When we parsed the data, we found that Starters (new users of analytics) were entrenched in “survival mode,” focused on cuttings costs and creating efficiencies as their main challenge. Intermediates (moderate users of analytics) were in “growth mode,” focused on growing revenues. Sophisticates (advanced users of analytics) were in an “expansion mode,” focused on growing revenues and expanding their customer base through acquisition or retention strategies, perhaps because their use of analytics had already helped them optimize their operations and general growth approaches.