Definition: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques.
A world rich in information streams in multiple formats and
from multiple devices brings the issue of cognitive overload
to the fore. Organizations and workers will only be able to
turn the massive influx of data into an advantage if they can
learn to effectively filter and focus on what is important.
The next generation of workers will have to develop their own
techniques for tackling the problem of cognitive overload. For
example, the practice of social filtering—ranking, tagging,
or adding other metadata to content helps higher-quality or
more relevant information to rise above the “noise.”
Workers will also need to become adept at utilizing new
tools to help them deal with the information onslaught.
Researchers at Tufts University have wired stockbrokers—
who are constantly monitoring streams of financial
data, and need to recognize major changes without being
overwhelmed by detail. The stockbrokers were asked
to watch a stream of financial data and write an involved
email message to a coll-eague. As they got more involved
in composing the email, the fNIRS (functional near-infrared
spectroscopy, which measures blood oxygen levels in the
brain) system detected this, and simplified the presentation
of data accordingly.