Tech Firms to Fix Monster They Created

Email, IMs keep employees available and distracted
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2008 11:25 AM CDT
Last week, a Google software engineer introduced E-Mail Addict, an experimental feature for the company%u2019s e-mail service that lets people cut themselves off from their in-boxes for 15 minutes.   (Index Stock)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Google, Microsoft, Intel, and IBM are partnering are on a new initiative to help workers distracted by emails and instant messages improve their productivity, the New York Times reports. The Information Overload Research Group, a nonprofit launching next month, will devise cultural and technological solutions to reduce the digital deluge that’s costing firms $650 billion a year in productivity.

“There’s a competitive advantage of figuring out how to address this problem,” said one IMB researcher, noting a  “certain amount of irony” in the tech firms' effort to solve a problem they helped create. An Intel engineer added, “People get so addicted to e-mail that they will send an e-mail across an aisle, and that’s not a good thing.” (Read more email stories.)