Information overload – how a day turns into a week

Information overload – how a day turns into a week

So how real is information overload? Sure we all hear about it. But can information overload be measured?

Over the past couple months, I did a couple of tests to measure information overload in my field.

The first test that I did was to determine how long it would take me to read an average day’s news. I took a vacation in June and left my RSS feeds on auto pilot. After 20 days, I had 11,907 articles waiting for me. Fair enough. That works out to 595 articles per day. I wrote a quick script to scrape each article and get a word count. The average words per article were 724.

595 articles per day = 11,907 articles divided by 21 days
430,780 words per day = 595 articles multiplied by an average 724 words
2,153.9 minutes = 430,780 words divided by my reading speed of about 200 words per minute
35.9 hours = 2,153.9 minutes by 60 minutes per hour
4.5 days = 35.9 hours divided by 8 hours per day

Result: It takes four days to read one day’s news in theory.

The second test that I did was to actually read one of the day’s news. I picked the day that I returned. I dumped out all articles. I read each one, and checked into the details where appropriate. For a couple articles that were hands-on, I duplicated the work on my computer or on my lab.I set the goal of not just reading but actually understanding and learning from each article.

Result: It takes six days to read a day’s news in actuality.

Information overload in IT and InfoSec is very real. That is the bottom line. There is more coming at us that we can possibly catch up with. In my case, each and every day, I fall a week behind.

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