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Cutting-Edge Technology a Two-Edged Sword

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I'm pretty well convinced that someone who wanted to exert world domination invented the ''reply all'' button for our e-mails.

This individual probably was nurtured in the dark ages of the low-tech junk-mail business and simply perfected the technique to leverage advanced technology.

How else do you explain why when your name is on a mailing list with 15 other people that they all feel they must share their every thought with each one of the other 14 people on the list?

It can be a petty annoyance, but when you read e-mails from people trying to validate themselves 14 times in a row, it turns into more than a casual irritant.

Some techno geek is probably laughing hysterically at how we have allowed ourselves to be seduced by the benefits of technology, only to learn that there was a nasty, immobilizing force just below the surface.

Simply put, technology is a big time waster.

And, nowhere does it waste more time than on the job.

Information is supposed to be power, but the Information Age has taken an unlikely turn and now many people dread the next piece of information that will be too much.

That's what a new study commissioned by LexisNexis computer research says. The survey of 650 white-collar and knowledge workers found employees across virtually every industry are affected by information overload.

The most troubled profession seems to be the legal field, where 80% of workers say they are increasingly overloaded with information.

The survey reports that 62% of professionals report that they spend too much time sifting through irrelevant information to find what they need.

Sixty-eight percent say wish they could spend less time organizing information and more time using the information that comes their way.

"The Information Age has brought the American professional work force to an information overload," says Mike Walsh, chief executive of LexisNexis U.S. Legal Markets.

More than 40% of those taking the workplace survey say they don't feel they'll be able to handle any more additional information in their jobs.

The source of the problem is technology. It's not that technology itself is a problem, but it's a problem the way people use it and it's a problem that workers don't have the knowledge or tools at their disposal to help wade through this information swamp.

Companies have to bear the brunt of the problem. They are the ones that invested in technology because it increased productivity. Yet, when it becomes such a significant problem that it causes anxiety in the work force and stymies workers from being as productive as they might be, it has defeated itself.

Nearly every professional in today's workplace has a cell phone or a Blackberry that gives them an instant information to their jobs. Nearly everyone else has a computer that is another tool for people to pepper you with information.

We find it hard to get away from the office when the office seems to go everywhere with us, or is just a phone call away.

The smarter companies will soon see that there is a thing such as too much information. They will address the situation by training their employees in how to deal with it.

That should have been done before, but it wasn't. It is now a challenge for any and all companies that want to flourish.

Michael Kinsman can be reached at
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