An Overloaded Room on Information Overload Awareness Day

Yesterday, August 12, was Information Overload Awareness Day. If you are reading this column, you probably knew that already and you might have even been one of the 350+ people who registered for the Information Overload Awareness Day Inaugural Event.

When we first announced Information Overload Awareness Day a few months ago, we envisioned that 50 or so people would gather online and talk about different aspects of addressing Information Overload.  But once we started preparing for the event, the response we received from all quarters was overwhelmingly positive and the Inaugural Event took on a life of its own.

Our sponsors invited guests, we received numerous enquiries from members of the press, and an outstanding roster of speakers agreed to participate.  Still, nothing prepared me for the irony that greeted some of our attendees when the virtual doors opened at 11 a.m. EDT.  It was a type of overload I hadn’t yet considered: too many attendees.

Through what turned out to be human error, the virtual conference space had not been set up for unlimited attendees.  When we hit a certain number (I’m not sure exactly what that was), those trying to join in got the message :”Too many participants.  The number of meeting participants has exceeded the limit.”

That was immediately followed by an avalanche of e-mail to our meeting organizer and it should have been a simple, two-minute fix – unless your dedicated technical support person is being rushed to the hospital (he’s feeling much better, we are told).  It took about 12 minutes to get this sorted but soon enough, several hundred people were in the room and we were cooking.

First off, I’d like to thank the 300+ knowledge workers around the world (over 30 countries were represented) for attending.  Many were with us for the entire event, which was five hours in length.  Our speakers were, in order of appearance, Nathan Zeldes, president of the Information Overload Research Group, Maggie Jackson, author of “Distracted,” Christina Randle, CEO of the Effective Edge, Ed Stern from OSHA, Mark Hurst, founder of Creative Good, Ken Sickles from Dow Jones, Seth Earley, CEO at Earley & Associates, Paul Silverman, CEO of Integra Workshops, and Michael Song, author of “The Hamster Revolution.”

We took this opportunity to single out five organizations for their significant contributions to the fight against Information Overload, bestowing upon them the Basex Excellence Award, or Basey.  We invited an executive from each company to sit on our Visionary Vendor panel, which preceded the awards ceremony.

The 2009 Basey awards went to ClearContext: For tools that control the inbox, aggregate project information, and reduce information overload; Microsoft: For Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and Outlook 2010 and for inbox features that help reduce Information Overload; Nordic River: For TextFlow and its ability reduce Information Overload through a collaborative authoring environment; Xerox: For multiple contributions in search and categorization as well as a continued emphasis on mitigating Information Overload; and Xobni: For tools that improve inbox management and reduce information and relationship overload.

Finally, I would like to thank our corporate and association sponsors for their support.  Microsoft was the event’s Platinum Sponsor.  Gold sponsors included Bluenog, Cincom, CubeGuard, Dow Jones, IBM, Information Overload Research Group, Nordic River, SAS and Siemens. Silver sponsors included Creative Good, Feintuch Communications, HyperOffice, Permessa, Xerox and VirtualPBX.

We plan on making the event archive available for Web access so, in case you missed it, stay tuned.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

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