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Overload!: How Too Much Information is Hazardous to Your Organization by Jonathan B. Spira

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CHAPTER 21

WHAT WORKS BETTER WHEN

Everything is self-evident.

—René Descartes

Workers today are faced with an unending stream of messages and a plethora of communications tools with which to communicate and collaborate. But which tools are appropriate for a given circumstance? Over the past decade, we at Basex have interviewed hundreds of knowledge workers about their usage habits with respect to various real-time and near–real-time tools, with the goal of uncovering what works better under which circumstances.

Today, choices include desk phones and mobile phones, instant messaging (IM) and text messaging, and e-mail, not to mention messages that can be sent to one or more persons via Facebook, Twitter, or other social tools.

It was not too long ago that a telephone system outage would have been a major disruption at my (or at any) office. Today, while some businesses would certainly feel a major impact, many knowledge workers might remain unaware of such a failure because the office phone is used so rarely. Indeed, 76 percent of knowledge workers surveyed by Basex reported using the telephone for 30 minutes or less in a typical workday. According to Nielsen, mobile phone usage is dropping in all areas of measurement. In 2010, the average length of a mobile phone call fell to 3.8 minutes, down from 4 minutes in 2009. The number of calls made fell as well, to 188 a month, down 25 percent in the last three years. For 18- to 20-year-olds, there was also decline in average monthly ...

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