Overcoming Information Overload
by Bob Osgoodby
We receive so much information on the Internet, especially via email, that many times we have difficulty separating the good "stuff" from the junk. Most of us put unsolicited email (spam) in the junk category. By the time we weed through all that "stuff" however, we are approaching information overload, and may give "short shrift" to the really good information we receive.
One way to overcome this very real problem, is to create email filters for things you may wish to read at a future time. For example, create a generic filter for the ezines or newsletters you subscribe to, or one for each. This will then automatically separate this good "stuff" from the junk. You can then keep your "inbox" clean, and read the information at your leisure when you are less harried. One for family and friends is also a good idea.
Use your email filters to weed out the junk. It only takes a moment or so to create a filter, and this will keep all the repeat spam out of your inbox. The best way to filer spam, is not to filter on the senders email address. Most of these are forged anyway, and are different every time. Pick out some "key words" contained in the body of the message. "Stop Snoring, Own an offshore retirement fund, $16,000+ with ONE $20 gift" just to name a few. Filter out those emails that match your key words.
Some of the spam is one time only and you don't need to be concerned with that. Why not create a folder titled "Spam". Every day, instead of simply deleting them, transfer them to this folder. If you see a pattern developing, you can easily pick out the worst offenders, and create a filter for them.
When you subscribe to an ezine or newsletter, don't make a summary judgement that you don't want it. Most publishers try to provide a "variety" of items, and it may take several issues before you both click. Like a baseball player, don't expect a "homerun" every time at bat. Give it a half-dozen or so issues before making up your mind. You may simply get an issue that doesn't appeal to you, but the next might be a winner.
Some people go so far as to set up a separate email account just for their personal use, and another for their ezines, which is not a bad idea. But, if you do this, for goodness sake remember which one you used. Most publishers use list servers for their mailings. You can't unsubscribe from a publication except from the address that they have on file. To prevent the "cranksters" from running amok, they require you to be signed on the address they have on file in order to be removed.
If you decide you don't want a particular publication any longer, try to unsubscribe, and if you get a message that you are not on the list, it does little good to rant and rave. If you're not there, you're not there - period. While most publishers don't want people on their list who don't wish to receive it, they have no idea what email address you used when subscribing.
Most publishers will make an honest effort to remove you from their list, and threats to report them for spamming, will not help them to remove you. The majority of the time the people who complain are using a free email account, and are automatically forwarding the mail to their main address. To compound matters, they forgot they are doing this, and get aggravated when they can't unsubscribe under their main email address.
If you are receiving a publication and cannot unsubscribe, filter their publication automatically into your trash basket. This will save you and the publisher a lot of aggravation.
There is a great deal of good information on the Internet. If you approach it wisely, you will benefit. If you don't, you may also suffer from "Information Overload" and be deleting some really good information.