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Overload and Workaholism


 Hitech Startups     Data smog Conformism- Rebellion Spectrum  

"Technostress" (computer-related stress) is a combination of performance anxiety, information overload, role conflicts, and organizational factors.


Craig Brod, Technostress: The Human Cost of the Computer Revolution. (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1984]

Philosophical Problems

The Overload Syndrome: Learning to Live Within Your Limits

  •  Excellent Read! Better Than "Margin"., March 2, 2003

    Michael Taylor (see more about me) from Charlotte NC

    In my humble opinion, "Overload Syndrome" is better than Swenson's first book, "Margin", mainly because the author gets to the prescription sooner and spends less time defining the problem.

    For example, in "Margin", you are over 1/3 into the book before Swenson gives a clear and comprehensive definition of the term "margin". In "Overload Syndrome", Swenson spends the first 50 pages describing overload syndrome and the last 150 giving prescriptions for the problems. Therefore, more text in "Overload Syndrome" is spent giving solutions. Granted, in our time and age we want a quick fix to our problems without delving deeply into the problem. However, Swenson's prescriptions are not the quick fixes we may have grown accustomed to and are profound in their simplicity.

    For example, some of Swenson's excellent prescriptions include how to:

    1. Make solitude a priority for resting and thinking.
    2. Deal correctly with possesions so they do not possess you.
    3. Combat media overload.
    4. Deal with information overload.
    5. Make wise choices.
    6. Lower expectations.
    7. Slow down and enjoy life.

    Practically everyone who reads the book struggles with one or more of the above areas and will greatly benefit from reading "Overload Syndrome"! --This text refers to the Paperback edition

     Unplug to Avoid Overload, December 27, 2001
    Reviewer: Tama J. Westman (see more about me) from Chaska, MN

    It would seem a simple solution. But, in today's world things have become so difficult and solutions so time consuming. That's why Swenson breaks the prescription down into small easy-to-swallow pills. Through humor and a great deal of common sense, Swenson shows how you can carve out a margin in four key areas of your life: emotional, physical, time and financial. By becoming Goal-Focused and God-Focused, you can unplug and eliminate a large portion of the stress in your life, thereby avoiding Overload Syndrome.


    7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:

     Caught in the whirlwind of life and can't seem to slow down?, August 1, 2000
    Reviewer: jen1212 (see more about me) from Dallas, TX USA

    This book can truly change your life if you let its still. small voice bring your life back to what God intended it to be. As this book explains, there are seasons of busyness, and there are seasons of rest. Modern life has sped up to the point that we seem to believe we must be running 25 hours a day, that everything rests on our shoulders. But that isn't true! God doesn't give us more than we can handle- we take the burden on ourselves. This book is not a quick fix guide by any means. It simply explains what the modern overload syndrome is and how to escape, by asking questions and offering broad guidelines that encourage you to look at your life and decide how it needs to change in order to bring back a level of sanity and the margin that we all so desperately need against the world's ever increasing demands. --This text refers to the Paperback edition

     Good for the mind AND the heart, June 16, 2000

    derbin (see more about me) from Casper, WY USA

    Dr. Swenson provides real ideas about simplifying your lifestyle, thus avoiding the "Overload Syndrome". He backs up his argument with applicable scripture and prescribed discipline. If we really adhered to his reccomendations, our lives WOULD definitely be simpler. It's both inspiring and encouraging. A must-read for the frantic folks among us. --This text refers to the Paperback edition

    [Shenk1998] Data Smog : Surviving the Information Glut

    David Shenk / Paperback / Published 1998

    From reader reviews:

    The book starts off with a good analysis of the problem -- society's dependence on computers and the rapid evolutionary pace of technology (and the slow evolutionary pace of human beings in absorbing this glut of information). However, a large portion of the book focuses on the effects of technology on politics. This is not very useful for someone who is trying to survive the information glut in everyday work and home environments. Then it ends with simplistic solutions, which are ways to reduce data overload

    The author does a good job describing the problem and effects of information overload, and I find myself nodding at many of the anecdotes. I share the author's dismay at the Polyannas of media and at the sheer task of keeping up. The book gets weaker when it goes beyond a description of the problem and its effects, however. Some of the ideas and suggestions for keeping info at bay seem vague or inappropriate, especially when it comes to his suggestions for the role of government. This book would make a fine present for your insanely busy boss whose confidence you want to undermine.

    See also Coping With Information Overload Too much of a good thing can hurt your job performance.

    Paul Saffo, a director with the Institute for the Future in Menlo Park, Calif., told Information Week that it's not the information glut itself that causes problems, but rather our inability to process information. "Information overload is not a function of the volume of information out there," Saffo says. "It's a gap between the volume of information and the tools we have to assimilate the information into useful knowledge."

    Yet the solution is an old-fashioned one, contends Emory Mulling, president of the Mulling Group, an Atlanta-based executive coaching firm. In fact, it predates e-mail, the Internet, and voicemail.

    "People still must recognize they have to prioritize and winnow," he says. "Just because we may have access to all the information in the world, it doesn't mean we can process it all. In fact, far from it."

    What Will Be : How the New World of Information Will Change Our Lives; Michael L. Dertouzos

    Trapped in the Net : The Unanticipated Consequences of Computerization; Gene I. Rochlin

    [email protected] from San Francisco , October 20, 1998 ** A grouch book with no solutions This book belongs in the genre of what I call Grouch Books: extensive laments about costs and consequences of technology, but with no attempts at syntheses or solutions. At every turn, the author paints a "no exit" vision of the internet: if it's freewheeling and unregulated, it's "chaotic" and "disorganized"; where it's centralized, it is overbearing and freedom-robbing. The author makes it seem as though the people concerned with hardware and software development are thoughtless, greedy, naive, or some combination. Any hint of libertarian ideals in the shakers and movers of digital culture is dismissed by Rochlin as naive and illusory, and every tendency of this culture is, in his vision, toward loss of humanity and the replacement of art with artifice. This book is single-track thinking at its worst. And to anyone who has experienced the benefits of digital culture and design, the complaining tone grows tiresome and monotonous. On those very rare occasions when he begrudges some possible benefits of the internet, Rochelin immediately qualifies them out of existence. The increased information made available by the internet, for example, is seen as all right for those who use it for "social development," but not for "conversation and entertainment" -- as if mere conversation had nothing to do with social development. If readers want to read about the costs and consequences of technology, they would be far better advised to go through a book such as Neil Postman's Technopoly. While just as grim in his assessment of the current state of affairs, Postman has a much greater range, and at least has the intellectual stamina to propose a solution.

    The End of Education : Redefining the Value of School ~ Usually ships in 24 hours

    Neil Postman / Paperback / Published 1996 Our Price: $9.60 ~

    You Save: $2.40 (20%)

    Postman (Conscientious Objections, 1988, etc.) is an important critic of the US culture. In his earlier book he argued that America has become the world's first ``totalitarian technocracy''--otherwise known as a ``Technopoly.'' As one of readers wrote " In the field of education, there are more ardent reformers than you could fit in a football stadium. But what do we want to reform, and how to go about it. Everybody has a different idea about it."


    From Amazon readers reviews:

    For Postman, the survival of public education rests upon its purpose. He suggests that early purposes of education such as democracy, the melting-pot concepts, and Protestant work ethic have been lost. In addition, the "gods" of consumerism and technology have also failed. He suggests that the reader consider his five purposes for education as a means for its survival. These include his belief that education should exist so individuals become responsible for the planet earth. Another is that educators must enable their students to view knowledge in terms of a past and a future. Students must learn that mistakes are a source of learning rather than a fatality. Another is to extend the notion of the "American experiment." A love of country must be taught, and the foundation and arguments upon which this country were built should continue. Schools should teach and respect diversity; diversity should be a point of unification, not division. An understanding of language and its creation of a worldview is another purpose of education. While I found his purposes interesting, I question their being embraced and actually upheld by educators across the country. Nevertheless, Postman presents an interesting perspective!

    Another reader

    Neil Postman's book is more than just refreshing. He makes a clear distinction between teaching as a kind of engineering feat--through books, transparencies, film, computers and whatever the latest delivery system is--and teaching as introducing the student to himself or herself and to the world. This book is about teaching diversity, in the real sense of the word. And this book is about the problem of education not being so much "how" we teach or "what" we teach, but that we lack a substantial goal. We lack a metaphysic. If you do not understand what it means to lack a metaphysic, then this book is for you. It is one thing to lose something and know that we have lost it (a wallet, for example), but if we lose something (such as a sense for what a metaphysic is) and we don't even know it is lost, we will not even know enough to look for it. If we have lost the sense of our lives being ordered toward some end, then indeed we are permanently lost. And we are just teaching randomly and learning randomly, as we try to become better producers and better consumers. Is that what we are? Neil Postman says no. We are much more. I encourage every teacher who cares about teaching to read this book. I encourage every student who has wondered why we have to study so many unnecessary things, to read this book. It will help the teacher reorient his or her teaching and it will help the student articulate the pain and fear he or she feels upon entering a classroom, and the reasons for his or her boredom in the face of what ought to be adventurous learning about the world and about himself or herself.

    Here is opinion of yet another reader

    Postman I think makes a good case for what has been wrong with education (too much emphasis on facts rather than narrative or epistemology, creeping cultural sensitivity, and inculcating consumerism). Still, this books ends up, for me, becoming more a defense of the status quo rather than a polemic for radical change. We risk, in our dissatisfaction with the current system, throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Education is best when it socializes children into the obligations of a citizen, and immunizes us against the snake-oil seductions of consumerism. Postman believes the seeds to our salvation, to harnessing the prodigious energies and good will of the young, are in finding powerful narratives that give meaning and direction to their lives. And I wholeheartedly agree that teaching this has nothing at all to do with whether our children learn that via multimedia Pentium machines, traditional pencil and paper, or even clay slates, for that matter. The book's title, Postman tells us, is a deliberately ambiguous prophecy, meant to make us question why we have public education, as well as warn us that it may be on its way out. But along the way, Postman always lays out his arguments with entertaining examples, and an irrestistably dry wit which almost, I hope he pardons my using the term, amuses me to death. I think our culture is richer because of Postman; I just wish more people paid attention to him

    Interface Culture : How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate; Steven A. Johnson

    Interface Culture examines the state of computing from the perspective of its 29-year-old author, Steven Johnson, co-founder and editor of the Web 'zine Feed (

    Where Johnson really shines (and I admit a personal bias for the topic) is in his discussion about hypertext and the poor job that silicon valley has done in really pushing it to the limits of it possibility. He presents a picture of an industry that continues to try to bring television to the web (real video, real audio, flash) all attempts to bring movement and animation to a naturally solid state-dynamic environment. The real power of the web is in the link, in the ability of authors and users to "create their own story" - to navigate through the content as they wish, not necessarily how the author intended. Johnson uses Dicken's stories as examples of thinking that incorporates the sense of disparate ideas - all connected into one story - the kind of thinking that Johnson thinks needs to be used to harness the power of the link.


    The Cult of Information : A Neo-Luddite Treatise on High Tech, Artificial Intelligence, and the True Art of Thinking ~ Usually ships in 24 hours

    Theodore Roszak / Paperback / Published 1994 Our Price: $11.96 ~

    You Save: $2.99 (20%)

    Media Virus! : Hidden Agendas in Popular Culture ~ Usually ships in 24 hours

    Douglas Rushkoff / Paperback / Published 1996 Our Price: $9.60 ~

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    Propaganda : The Formation of Men's Attitudes ~ Usually ships in 24 hours

    Jacques Ellul / Paperback / Published 1973 Our Price: $8.80 ~

    You Save: $2.20 (20%)

    The Technological Society ~ Usually ships in 2-3 days

    Jacques Ellul / Paperback / Published 1967 Our Price: $9.60 ~ You Save: $2.40 (20%)

    Construction Administration : An Architect's Guide to Surviving Information Overload ~ Ships in 2-3 days

    Patrick C. Mays, B. J. Novitski (Contributor) / VHS Tape / Published 1997

    Managing Information Overload (The Worksmart Series)

    Lynn Lively, et al / Paperback / Published 1996

    Printouts, memos, e-mail, voice mail, reports, faxes...HELP! Everyone buried beneath an avalanche of information will find this WorkSmart guide a welcome way out. It shares information-management skills and techniques to help readers identify key data, organize it, and determine what to keep and what to throw away. The author discusses the five information areas of concentration and shows readers how to develop a personal action plan to bring order to their offices, reduce stress, and make better decisions. Using the book’s many tips and suggestions, readers will learn how to: · get maximum benefit from available information · clean off their desks · make time to read new periodicals · revise reports · better organize computer hard drives · read smarter · spot new trends · raise better questions · find better sources of information LYNN LIVELY (Seattle, WA) is a full-time professional speaker and writer on workplace decision-making and thinking skills. She is also president and co-founder of American Pioneer Inc., recognized by President Bush and the SBA for excellence in exporting.


    Managing Information; Avoiding Overload

    Trevor J. Bentley / Paperback / Published 1998

    Overload and Boredom : Essays on the Quality of Life in the Information Society (Contributions in Sociology, No. 57)

    Orrin E. Klapp / Hardcover / Published 1986

    Seminar on How to Cope with Data Overload : the impact of new technology on marketing information : Paris, France, 6th-8th February 1990

    Survive Information Overload : The 7 Best Ways to Manage Your Workload by Seeing the Big Picture

    Kathryn Alesandrini / Published 1992

    Overload : Attention Deficit Disorder and the Addictive Brain - David K. Miller, Kenneth Blum; Paperback

    The Overload Syndrome : Learning to Live Within Your Limits - Richard A. Swenson; Hardcover

    Overload and Boredom: Essays on the Quality of Life in the Information Society (Contributions in Sociology)

    The Technological Society

    Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes

    Stop Obsessing!: How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions

    Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology

    Trapped in the Net

    Managing Information Overload (The Worksmart Series)

    Overload: Attention Deficit Disorder and the Addictive Brain

    Survive Information Overload: The 7 Best Ways to Manage Your Workload by Seeing the Big Picture

    The Overload Syndrome: Learning to Live Within Your Limits

    Parkinson's Law

    Understanding the Professional Programmer

    High Stakes, No Prisoners : A Winner's Tale of Greed and Glory in the Internet Wars



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