Life hacks: Information is no longer a scarce resource – attention is.

Fascinating article in the New York Times discussing the growth of interest in so called ‘Life Hacks’ and sites like 43 Folders. It’s interesting to read the science behind the now more widely accepted belief that we’re suffering information overload and more specifically how that information is delivered.

One particular point of interest was designing information systems for NASA and the space shuttle. When I worked at the BBC I was briefly involved in transmitter control systems. The BBC Engineering Designs Department had created, from scratch, a Z80 based control system for the World Service transmitter sites – at the time there were no off-the-shelf systems suitable. The system controlled all aspects of the site including bringing senders (what they called transmitters) up and controlling the large antenna matrix switches that connected the senders to the antennas. The system monitored all sorts of things and needed to keep the operators informed. IIRC it had a carefully designed priority based alert system that told you what you needed to know but never overwhelmed. Way ahead of its time.

In the unlikely event of any of my former colleagues reading this or anyone else who has encountered these systems then I’d be interested to get a more complete history of these systems. A quick Google revealed very little.

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