5Across: How to Deal with Technology Overload

    by Mark Glaser
    October 8, 2009
    Annalee Newitz and Leif Hansen discuss technology overload over drinks after taping 5Across.

    This episode of 5Across is brought to you by the Knight News Challenge, a 5-year, $25 million contest to spur innovation in news. If you’d like to apply to win a grant of up to $5 million for an open source project, apply here by October 15. Good luck!

    There is a common thread in modern life that we are overwhelmed with the technology and media that were supposed to be making us more productive. A LexisNexis survey found that if you add up the time people spend using email, web browsers, instant messaging, and Microsoft Office, it comes to 15.9 hours per day. That’s extraordinary.

    So many of us are feeling overwhelmed by technology and are trying to deal with it. I’ve written about my own practice of taking a technology sabbath of one day off a week from my computer. On this episode of 5Across, I convened a roundtable of folks who are either overloaded with technology or helping people deal with that overload. And for true balance, the discussion also touches on the benefits of technology, too. Check it out!


    5Across: Technology Overload!

    Guest Biographies

    Leif Hansen is the Chief Engagement Officer of Spark Interaction. For over two decades, he has combined collaboration with creativity to inspire, challenge and connect individuals and groups. His Soul Tech workshops have received international attention, including coverage by “The Today Show,” Los Angeles Times and Seattle Times. Through his unique Playformation process, which is delivered through coaching, ongoing collaborative groups (“CoLabs”), presentations and workshops, he feels deep satisfaction in helping people discover more fun, purpose, support, meaning and creativity in their personal lives and work.

    Annalee Newitz is editor-in-chief of io9, a science and science fiction blog that gets over 3 million visitors a month. As a journalist who covers technology and pop culture, she has written a syndicated column, Techsploitation, about the ways that media mutates and reiterates the problems of everyday life. she is the author of the book “She’s Such a Geek,” and a variety of articles for Wired, the Washington Post, New York Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Believer. She has also been a policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.


    Dom Sagolla helped create Twitter. A software engineer in Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom, Sagolla returned to New England to get his masters from Harvard University in 2000. Since then he has helped engineer Macromedia Studio, Odeo, Twitter, and Adobe Creative Suite. He now produces iPhone software with his company DollarApp in San Francisco. His successes include the official Obama ’08 iPhone App, as well as two iTunes Staff Favorites: Big Words and Math Cards. @Dom has over 9,000 followers on Twitter. Earlier this month, Sagolla’s new book on Twitter, “140 Characters,” a style guide for the short form a la Strunk and White, was published by Wiley.

    Deborah Schultz is an Internet-industry veteran and innovator. She is currently a partner with the Altimeter Group, where she leads Innovation and Best Practices. She speaks and consults on the cultural and business impact of the Internet, specifically on the impact of the social web. She currently serves on Procter & Gamble’s Digital Advisory Board and has also consulted for and advised Fortune 50 companies including Pepsi, General Mills, and GE, as well as numerous Internet startups and VC firms. Previously, Schultz was marketing director at Six Apart, ran her own technology consultancy firm, was a management consultant at AnswerThink, and spent five years at Citibank where she developed many of the global bank’s first Internet initiatives.

    Dr. Jim Taylor holds a Ph.D. in psychology, is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, and blogs on the psychology of technology as the “Tech Shrink” at computerworld.com, psychologytoday.com, mobilitydigest.com, and on his own website, DrJimTaylor.com.

    If you’d prefer to watch sections of the show rather than the entire show, I’ve broken them down by topic below.

    Taking Breaks

    Virtual vs. Real World

    Learning Etiquette

    Psychological Issues

    Benefits of Technology

    Technology Implants?


    Mark Glaser, executive producer and host
    Darcy Cohan, producer
    Charlotte Buchen, camera
    Julie Caine, audio
    Location: Vega Project & Kennerly Architecture office space in San Francisco
    Special thanks to: PBS and The Knight Foundation
    Music by AJ the DJ


    i-2ba495add5fc298dd10d148da8dabc6c-vega project card.jpg

    Thanks to Vega Project for hosting 5Across

    What do you think? Do you feel overloaded with technology and media, and how do you deal with it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

    Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

    This episode of 5Across is brought to you by the Knight News Challenge, a 5-year, $25 million contest to spur innovation in news. If you’d like to apply to win a grant of up to $5 million for an open source project, apply here by October 15. Good luck!

    Tagged: breaks freedom rescue time technology overload technology sabbath

    4 responses to “5Across: How to Deal with Technology Overload”

    1. Thank you PBS & Mark for including me in this important & timely conversation. I hope that all who watch these videos find the support they need to think deeply about how their current technology use matches their life’s goals and vision.

      For those ready to start thinking more deeply about their relationship with technology, I’d suggest starting by striking up a few conversations with family and friends, avoiding judgments and superficial assessments, and really digging down to the level of hearing and respecting each others’ personal needs and values. What DO you think life’s about, and how is technology helping or hindering your human potential?

      Leif Hansen
      Spark Interaction

    2. Marina says:

      Hey I love this :)
      Here’s some of my wee notes in response….
      does it affect our relationships? Does it affect our physical health? does it affect the balance in our lives? YES!
      These discussions are what help us be AWARE of this, mediate it. These discussions should be more COMMON and more MAINSTREAM.

      Expectations HAVE changed – every moment is REQUIRED to provide entertainment otherwise “boredom” is established.
      This is a blaringly and disturbingly obvious shift in the generation I am teaching (adolescents), they also have the
      “deeper disconnect from ourselves” where they seem unable to see themselves and their own behaviour .
      Lack of self discipline is also, therefore (?) extremely common, particularly in this age group.

      “really bad at remembering” – is this symptomatic of this technology age?
      Is the overload of information available at finger-tips therefore making our brains unable to / not versed at remembering?

    3. Good to see that people care about keeping us entertained as well as informed. That really is the best teaching method.

    4. willturner says:

      Its a really its a very nice thing…..and also very useful .. thank you for sharing this.

      Support for Technology

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