An old Silicon Valley maxim exhorts technology firms to “eat their own dog food” (aka, use their own technology). Now they’ve realized they’re eating too much. And so are we.

Microsoft, Intel, Google, and IBM are teaming together to form the non-profit Information Overload Research Group, which plans to meet for the first time in July, according to a recent New York Times story.

Last week, on this theme, a Google engineer introduced into GMail an “Email Addict” feature. When activated, the screen turns gray, and a message appears stating, “Take a walk, get some real work done, or have a snack. We’ll be back in 15 minutes!”

Facts cited in the article and motivating the research include:

A typical information worker who sits at a computer all day turns to his e-mail program more than 50 times and uses instant messaging 77 times, according to one measure by RescueTime, a company that analyzes computer habits. The company, which draws its data from 40,000 people who have tracking software on their computers, found that on average the worker also stops at 40 Web sites over the course of the day.

The goal is to reduce the fragmented nature of information interaction, improve efficiency, and improve productivity and creativity.

Call me cynical, but I also think it will end up with us buying or using more things from Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Intel. Non-profit, indeed . . .

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.