In case you weren't aware, yesterday was Information Overload Awareness Day - as if we needed to be made aware that we are overloaded....
This piece in The New Yorker does a great job at how many of us are [not] handling the deluge of e-mail we receive each day. Funny and brilliant.
Dear Friend, Family Member, Loved One, and/or Business Associate:
Thank you for your e-mail, which, if it is under three (3) sentences long, I have read. Owing to the large volume of e-mails I’m receiving at this time, please note that it will sometimes take up to fourteen (14) calendar days, though sometimes longer (and sometimes much longer), to respond to your e-mail; in the interim, please rest assured that I am attempting to address, resolve, or think about the matter you have described, unless, of course, I’m avoiding the matter entirely. Some possible reasons for this include:
—Thinking about the matter gives me a headache.
—Thinking about the matter takes longer than forty-five (45) seconds.
—Thinking about the matter is simple enough, and takes less than forty-five (45) seconds, but, when combined with all the other e-mails in my in-box, it creates a synergy of matterdom, exacerbating the headaches mentioned at the beginning of this list.
Please note that if your e-mail is more than three (3) sentences in length I have read the first three (3) sentences, skimmed the opening paragraph, and sort of eyeballed the rest of it. Please do not expect a response to your e-mail anytime soon, if at all, for I am not a mind reader, and therefore cannot guess the nature of anything beyond the first three (3) sentences. For those of you who continue to insist on sending e-mails longer than three (3) sentences, here is a Wikipedia entry on haiku. Reformat your e-mails accordingly, as in this example:
I am busy now; The Internet has stolen So much precious time.
Under certain circumstances, you may feel as though you cannot express the matter at hand in less than three (3) sentences. Below, please find some possible reasons for this, and their solutions:
Jessica Jackley, co-founder of kiva.org, talks about the roots of her organization. I think she really speaks to a fear many people have of trying to help the poor and falling into a quagmire of hopelessness. I have given to kiva in the past and it's wonderful to see her passion and determination. I hope it inspires others to get involved, as well.
Bosses matter. They matter because more than 95 percent of all people in the workforce have bosses, are bosses, or both. They matter because they set the tone for their followers and organizations. And they matter because many studies show that for more than 75 percent of employees, dealing with their immediate boss is the most stressful part of the job. Lousy bosses can kill you—literally. A 2009 Swedish study tracking 3,122 men for ten years found that those with bad bosses suffered 20 to 40 percent more heart attacks than those with good bosses.
I remember interviewing someone for a job years ago who saw a copy of The Economist sitting on a table in my office.
The candidate said, "You read The Economist, huh?"
Yes, I read a lot of magazines, I replied.
"I don't like The Economist," said the interviewee, "They hate whales."
At least now we know they like dogs
There are plenty of studies which show that dogs act as social catalysts, helping their owners forge intimate, long-term relationships with other people. But does that apply in the workplace? Christopher Honts and his colleagues at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant were surprised to find that there was not much research on this question, and decided to put that right. They wondered in particular if the mere presence of a canine in the office might make people collaborate more effectively. And, as they told a meeting of the International Society for Human Ethology in Madison, Wisconsin, on August 2nd, they found that it could.
U. MICHIGAN/U. PENNSYLVANIA (US)—Drinking alcohol during a lunch or dinner job interview—even when the boss does—could lower the likelihood of getting hired, according to a new study.
“Alcohol consumption plays a prominent role in many professional interactions, including job interviews, negotiations, and informal meetings,” says Scott Rick, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Michigan.
“By introducing alcohol, managers can create a relaxed atmosphere that facilitates information exchange and relationship development.
“But merely holding an alcoholic beverage may reduce the perceived intelligence of the person holding it, in the absence of any actual reduction in cognitive performance—a mistake we term the imbibing idiot bias.”
I've heard of this concept before and wondered if it would work. Apparently, it does. Panera Bread gave customers suggested prices for its menu items and the majority of patrons paid in full. Moreover, Panera thinks it should be able to recover costs for doing this within just a few months.
I can see a couple of ugly caveats, given my musings on human nature lately. The first is the people who will say, "Well, Panera is clearly able to cut the price, so they should just cut the price on the menu and let me pay less." The second is the notion that every business will do this and , therefore, we can cut the social safety net.
Here's hoping, though, that the success of this experiment will spread across the restaurant industry in this difficult economic climate.
...many biologists who study whales and dolphins ...urge that negotiators redouble efforts to abolish commercial whaling and dolphin hunting entirely. As these scientists see it, the evidence is high and mounting that the cetacean order includes species second only to humans in mental, social and behavioral complexity, and that maybe we shouldn’t talk about what we’re harvesting or harpooning, but whom.
“At the very least, you could put it in line with hunting chimps,” said Hal Whitehead, who studies sperm whales at Dalhousie University in Halifax. “When you compare relative brain size, or levels of self-awareness, sociality, the importance of culture, cetaceans come out on most of these measures in the gap between chimps and humans. They fit the philosophical definition of personhood.”
How much more personable can you get than to wave the flag for tribe or team? Among sperm and killer whales, Dr. Whitehead said, “there’s a feeling of what one might call ethnicity or cultural identity, of saying, ‘This is my clan, and it’s different from the others.’ ” One way whales express their ethnicity is through dialect. Every clan has its signature call, and in regions of the ocean where two clans overlap, the differences between calls become exaggerated. “It’s like if you’re Irish and you run across someone who is Scottish or Welsh,” said Dr. Whitehead. “You’ll speak with an even stronger Irish accent to make it really clear whose group you belong to.”