Information Overload

Great post in “The Economist” recently regarding information overload. Reminded me of when I was back in corporate life and the daily task of juggling upwards of 75-100 e-mails a day with going to meetings and answering phone calls, let alone being tasked to keep up to date with all that my particular industry was creating on a global basis, drove me to the brink of insanity!!

Seems my life was easy-peasy back then compared to the deluge of information execs are dealing with in today’s business forum. “The Economist” stated that research has found that  there are three main worries for ‘data asphyxsiation’.
1. Information overload can make people feel anxious and powerless.
2. Overload can reduce creativity due to lack of focus caused by constant interruptions
3. Overload can make workers less productive because completing tasks in parallel takes longer and is more eroneous than completing tasks in sequence.

In my day we only thought we were becoming more stressed and less productive but it seems now companies are actually discovering that “tweeting, bleating, meeting and greeting” all at once really will send employees scurrying to the Prozac tap and ultimately the psychiatric wards. So…what’s to be done??

Google is apparently trying to help by making searches more personable to cut down time surfing, while Xerox is trying to develop better filtering systems to eradicate all those shipments of spam. Business consultants Mc.Kinsey probably have the right answer:-

Find time to focus,filter out noise and forget about work when you can.

Yeah…right! ‘scuse me guys…just received another three e-mails while writing this post….gotta go!!

Searching with Google Tools

I’ve created this video clip to meet the needs of a group of Year 10 science students I’ve been working with who are just starting a new research project.    I’ve observed many people who just use the regular search page and while that’s fine in most instances, Google has some great tools to help you narrow down your search and make it more specific.  Conversely they can also help when you’re not really sure what you’re looking for.

The Future of Personalisation

Have you ever wondered where personalisation might be leading us?  I certainly have and if it means less cost to the environment by reducing waste I’m all for it.    Like a lot of people there’s nothing more satisfying to me than stepping away from mass consumerism and having something unique especially if it’s my own creation.   This gorgeous video by nueve ojos shows the potential of how that might work in the future and if you are of the creative ilk you’ll definitely want to check out this great kiwi company This one stop digital shop is a haven for design professionals and those who want to try out their creative skills without the start up costs associated with a new business.   Create an online account and you can upload your designs to your digital showroom, but unlike other design stores the designer pays absolutely nothing until someone buys your design.   There is also a forum for sharing and communicating ideas with other designers from around the world. Some designs are offered free, to get you started.  Alternatively you can pay a designer for their digital design, download it and add your own touch to it.  So whether you want to create a one off personalised present or take it more seriously it’s well worth a look,

Online Bookmark Tools

The latest helpful tool I’ve found is Diigo.  This site has a lot to offer for the online reader.   If you find yourself with loads of bookmarked sites in your favourites and no way of accessing them when you’re not at your own computer you need an online bookmarking tool. If you like Delicious it’s likely you’ll be interested in what Diigo has to offer.  Both sites offer you the ability to save your bookmarks to a free account with tags and a library for easy finding but Diigo goes that bit further by giving you the ability to highlight web pages, and add sticky notes.  You need to add the Diigo Extension to your tool bar to use this feature but it’s well worth it.  You can share your notes and highlights with friends, either by adding them to your network if they are also a Diigo account holder or by email if not an account holder.  There’s a whole lot more resources available by joining groups and community networks something I’ve yet to explore. Both sites give you the ability to import bookmarks from your favourites and Diigo gives you the ability to import bookmarks from Delicious.

Watch the video for an overview of the Diigo Extension.

How good is your back up system?

Back up is one of the easiest things you can do for yourself to avoid the stress that follows when you realise you’ve lost that document you just spent hours on or those gorgeous photos of your wee munchkin when they were 2.  A good rule of thumb is to have 3, 4 or even 5 back-ups of file storage in different places so if you loose one, get it stolen or it crashes your work is safely stored where you can retrieve it relatively easily.   I learnt this lesson the hard way.  I thought I was covered with an external hard drive which I used to store all my photos rather than on my computer, it died one day with no warning along with 400 photos.

A good back-up system would be something like an external hard drive, files on a memory stick and/or CD, as well as files stored in the “Clouds”  If you’re new to the term cloud computing you’re obviously not taking advantage of a great service that often comes free.  Cloud storage put simply is a storage service held on a remote server.  Some sites like offer a free storage for up to 1 GB, open a free account, create your online directory, then upload those important files. also gives you the ability to collaborate with others which is great if you have a joint project at hand or are happy to share your resources.  There’s also a whole host of applications you can add to your account which for example gives you the tools to be able to edit your files on the go or from your phone.  If you require more than the 1GB storage you can upgrade for a reasonable fee, and at last you get have your head in the clouds.

Cloud storage is a good safeguard if you have to give a presentation or a lesson and you’ve left your memory stick at home, provided you remember to upload your latest versions you’ll always be well prepared.

Organise your ideas

Diagrams, Flowcharts and More

Flow Chart for a Design Process

Flow Chart for a Design Process

If you have some new ideas that you’d like to get off the ground and want some help to organise yourself just might have the answer.  Gliffy is full of user-friendly applications that will have you presenting yourself in the most professional way.  Whether you have an idea for a web site, designing a floor plan for your dream home or need to demonstrate how you’re going to get that project done on time, Gliffy rests all your tools at your finger tips.

Set up a free user account and choose from a simple interface to create your slick diagram.  Tools are a familiar click and drag format, and of course there’s the ability to save your work which can then be stored for later retrieval or you can invite someone to work collaboratively on the project with you.    You can export your work as jpeg or png files or upload them directly to your Wiki Site.  Students will love the ease at which they can create visual images that communicate their ideas and diagrams.

Online Publishing

Everyone has a book inside them just waiting for the right time to be written down.  If you’ve teeted with the idea of creating your own publication, but never thought it would make it past a publishers eye  could be the anwser to your prayers.   To use the Yudu’s online publishing tool simply create a free account and upload your files, PDF, Word(.doc), Powerpoint(.ppt), Excel or Open Office equivalents.  If uploading a Word document make sure you save it to the  Office 97-2003 format.  You will need to upload your document in it’s entirety, with all your pages in their correct order.    Keep fonts simple in your documents or you may have some display issues.  If you really want to use fancy fonts, save them as an image.  As a general rule of thumb it’s best to keep to the ” web font family’.  Choose the type of publications you want to make, then save to your library.   You’re then ready to share with others either by a direct email link, embed into your web site or make your publication public and save to Yudu’s library.

When you’re ready for an upgrade you’ll want to take advantage of Yudu’s Plus which gives you the added features of being able to embed video into your books, add audio, edit pages and sell your publication.

Yudu’s library is extensive with thousands of e-books and magazines and all kinds of subjects.  While viewing publications you can also add your own bookmarks, highlight text and add a small note by simply dragging the notepad onto the publication.  You can also save your favourites to your library.  Roll your mouse over the tools when viewing to see how you can share this document, download or print.   Here’s a sample of one I created from a recent Assignment.  If you can’t see the flash animation below you may need to upgrade your Adobe Flash Player 10.1 to be able to.  A word of caution though, installing the update is a good move, but you might like to uncheck the Free McAFee Security Plan Plus it is optional.  A marketing ploy from McAFee to get you onboard to buy their products.  If by accident you download with the McAFee you’ll most likely see a short cut on your desktop.  To delete the programme go to your Control Panel, add or remove programs, you’ll find it there and from there you can uninstall.

Click to launch the full edition in a new window
Publishing Software from YUDU

21st Century Literacy

Came across an interesting video today “Students and ICT Leaders on 21C Education” part of a project by the Pearson Foundation.  It talks about “The Dawn of Learning” moving away from the traditional ‘memory recitation ability test’ to developing learners who are artistic, understand context, can synthesise content, can work in a  team, are multi-lingual as well as multi-cultural.  The 21st Century Literacies are about knowing how to find information, knowing how to validate that information, how to leverage it, communicate it, problem solve and collaborate.    It’s a great watch.


Brainstorming Ideas

Whilst brainstorming is a not a new concept, helps brainstorming sessions to be more dynamic and interactive.  Colourful, quick and easy to use allows you to work collaboratively online, email, print, or embed your mind map into your website.   You don’t have to sign up for a free account to be able to use it, but doing so will give you the ability to save your work and invite others to work on your mindmaps with you.

Mind map of my online community created with

Brain Games

Want to increase your memory, your spelling or arithmetic? is home to hundreds of games designed to give your thinking processes a bit of a work out.  Headed by a dedicated team of scientists, Luminosity games have been designed to develop your ability to focus, recognition and problem solving.   Create a free account with Luminosity and you have access to hundreds of games plus the ability to track your progress, compare with others and choose from a variety of courses tailored to suit your requirements.  You can even purchase a gift membership and get the whole family involved.  There’s also an extra section with games specifically designed for those with medical conditions like ADHD.  So, if you’re looking for a way to while away a few minutes of the day whilst improving your brain fitness Luminosity could be just the site you’re looking for.

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is a term that was first used in 2004. It signified a huge development in Internet use, a move away from static brochure type pages to dynamic web sites that could be created, interacted and manipulated by the individual. Global communities sprang up like wild fire, sites like Facebook and My space the former now boasts a whopping 100 million users are all examples of Web 2.0.

If you not so au fait with the plethora of applications available online since the advent of web 2.0 you’re not alone.  With so much to choose from it’s hard to know where to start.  No doubt you’ve seen the little icons on websites for Digg, Delicious, Stumbleupon and the like but have no real inclination how they might benefit you or whether or not you want them to.  Like it or not though, the web is moving on Web 2.0 is nearly old hat and Web 3.0 is just around the corner.  What an exciting time we’re in for, if  you believe in synchronicity in your life the Internet has just given you a magic wand.  It all comes down to how you use it and how well you understand it.