The one with the most toys wins? TEDxVienna Talk

Our brain has enourmous capacity, it’s like a harddrive, estimates range from a few hundred MB to several TB [1]. Some just recommend „Forget it, you won’t measure it, it’s just huge.“ [2] Now we sit with this harddrive in our head, which is 80 to 90 percent busy with body functions, and which we may actively use 10 to max 20 percent for thinking. The more of it we are able to use actively, the smarter cookies we are – in terms of intelligence.

Amounts of information happily increase, especially since Web 2.0 really kicked in. Presently the amount of collective information approximately doubles every year. 2007 we spent 25% of our daily worktime answering e-mail, 2009 it was 41% (several studies, e.g. by Soft Trust and Radicati Group). Having to deal with massively increasing amounts of data, information, tasks and processes, flooded by e-mail, documents, advertising … evolution took revenge: Our cognition suffered, call it attention deficit or something else. Being interrupted every 11 minutes on the average and dumped with tons of information we cannot concentrate as long as our parents‘ generation any more. If there isn’t an e-mail coming in every 11 minutes, or a colleage stands in the door to „quickly ask something“ or the phone rings … we interrupt ourselves to check something online, to switch between browser tabs … We won’t sit for 1 hour watching a tutorial on video, today videos may have something like 4 minutes for us to consider watching it, even better you make it 2:30 minutes. Information overload takes its toll.

So can we really be surprised if people who were on permanent standby, answering emails on their iphones and blackberries on Sunday 10 pm, slowly burn out? Can we really be surprised if the ones realizing this step on the break and go on an „online sabattical“ or disappear from social networking sites, half their activities online and try to keep the discipline going to the countryside without the cell phone on the weekend?

Lately more and more power users step out of the ever accelerating mode and reduce their online activities to a minimum, try to discipline themselves when writing to no more than half a page of e-mail text, to optimize themselves to the bare necessity in order to free quality time for the brain to empty from all the trash that it has to pass every day.

My Yoga teacher used to say: You know, your thoughts are like wild monkeys. The more you try to chase them away, the crazier they will jump around. So if you want them to go away, give them the chance, sit down and just bloody do nothing. 😉
Sean Bronner contributed with his talk last time  to this rather new „trend“ (in fact, I don’t like the word, but anyway) and spoke about Neominimalism.

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If this topic is something that appeals to you – maybe you wish to join Anitra Eggler’s talk @ TEDxVienna on 22 October 2011. So will I. More: http://www.tedxvienna.at/tedx-2011/confirmed-speakers/

See ya.


[1] AKRI Ltd. Applied Knowledge Research & Innovation: Cognition – Memory – Memory Capability. 2005.
[Online]: http://www.akri.org/cognition/memcape.htm


[2] Paul Reber: What Is The Memory Capacity Of The Human Brain? Scientific American, 19 April 2010. [Online]: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-is-the-memory-capacity (25 Sep 2011)

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