Infotention Skills: From Information Overload to Knowledge Navigation

Live Session

An immersive learning experience from Rheingold U

A half-day (four hour) online workshop with Howard Rheingold introduces the mindset, attention training, online media skills, and information tools you need to transform information overload into knowledge navigation. Learn about tools to bring continuous streams of relevant information to your attention and techniques for harvesting useful knowledge and avoiding distraction.

Today's Problem: Overload vs Need to Know

In business, education, and daily life, each of us are bombarded by an overwhelming amount of information from a growing number of channels; we need to shield ourselves to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Despite a growing portfolio of tools and services at our fingertips, the sense of being adrift, falling behind, and out of control continues to grow. At the same time, each of us requires a flow of information about our interests, professional pursuits, studies -- and we need this information relevant to our specific individual needs just in time and just in place. The reason for this disconnection between abundant data and limited attention is that information technology has evolved far more quickly than educational institutions. Most people lack attentional techniques and information-handling tools to deal masterfully with the information-processing demands of an always-on society -- because we've never been given the opportunity to learn these techniques and tools systematically, within a conceptual framework that makes sense today.

From extensive study, practice, and teaching, we have developed some key models to help people deal with this growing challenge. Most people's ability to function online has developed haphazardly by learning ad-hoc technologies and approaches. What has been lacking has been a structured approach to guide us through the learning process strategically. In the ever-pressing and never-ending flood of new information, few people have been given an opportunity to step back and examine their actual needs and priorities relative to an overabundance of data. We learn through example and practice to use basic concepts such as keyword searches, figure out how to customize our user interfaces and task environments; however, we carry out these tasks in isolation and without benefit of seeing the bigger picture of what our existing requirements are (in terms of sorting and filtering information) and how to assert control and gain mastery of our own information retrieval and filtration.

The Solution: Infotention Training

Infotention -- a combination of attentional discipline and information-handling tools -- is a method for turning information overload into knowledge navigation. Howard Rheingold's Infotention Workshop offers participants the unique opportunity to acquire rapidly the mindset, attention, training, online media skills, and information tools necessary to make today's complex and changing information environment work for you instead of overwhelm you. The course enables engaged participants to develop a learning framework and habits that will result in acquiring practical, lasting skills that lead, in turn, to mastery of personal information management, regardless of the particular technologies being used. This course equips students with necessary models and methods that they can then adapt to their own needs approaches and platforms.

During the first hour of a live session, instructor Howard Rheingold explains the philosophy and methodology of infotention -- a means of training your attention to make the best use of your time and online resources -- and uses audio, video, slides, whiteboard, and text-chat to demonstrate how to create and use information dashboards, radars, and filters. During the second and third hours, Howard remains available online to answer questions while learners create their own infotention toolkits. During the final hour, learners upload screenshots and discuss their tools and methodologies. Following the live session, learners will have access to a continually updated compendium of resources and an asynchronous discussion board for asking questions, seeking technical support, and discussing their learning. Every how-to demonstrated during live sessions is documented in step-by-step slideshows available to learners.

About the Instructor

Howard Rheingold has been lecturer at University of California, Berkeley School of Information and Stanford University's Department of Communication since 2004. He is credited with coining the term "virtual community" in 1987. His 1993 book about what are now called social media, "The Virtual Community," was one of Business Week's ten best business books of 1993, and Business Week named him one of its "visionaries" of 2003. Time magazine named Rheingold's Electric Minds one of the ten best websites of 1996. The New York Times named "Smart Mobs" as one of the best ideas of 2002. He was one of the winners of HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning Awards in 2008, awarded Doctor of Technology degree by De Montfort University in 2009, and invited to deliver the Regents' Lecture at UC Berkeley in 2012. Endorsements by former students of Rheingold U. online courses can be found at Rheingold U.'s endorsements page. If interested, contact instructor via

Cost for the live webinar, access to online how-to support materials and asynchronous support forum is $350, discounted to $300 for purchases of 10 seats or more. Each course cohort is limited to 10 learners.

Learning Outcomes:

Infotention strategy:

How can you know whether you are deploying your attention productively if you aren't clear about what you are supposed to be doing today? Attention strategy starts with prioritizing.

Expert discovery:

Finding feeds:

Each learner will find RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication -- automatically updated information that is pushed to the learner's dashboard) on a specific topic by means of:

Filtering feeds:

Configuring a dashboard:

Using Netvibes (although other RSS aggregators can be used), learners establish three different layers of categorization by means of Pages, Tabs, and Feeds.

This module sets learners up for the next stage of info-knowledge refinement: curation.

Benefits for the learner

Benefits for the Learner's Employer

"As a user researcher for Unified Communication tools, I always need to ensure that we deliver the right products to our customers. The world of communication and collaboration is changing at a rapid pace. In order to stay ahead of the curve in this fiercely competitive market, we need to always stay on the lookout for the latest shifts in user behaviors, business models, and technology innovations. I receive tons of new information related to my work every day and often it feels overwhelming. So it is very easy to overlook important information that can impact our business. Howard's course helped me solve this issue. Through this course, I learned about infotention tools and techniques and developed a learning framework that has direct impact on my work. Now I know how to filter and curate information and stay on top of my learning. Although I personally gained more than that, for my company those are the biggest returns on investment as I can directly apply my learning to our business now."

— Tazin Shadid, User Experience Researcher, Microsoft Unified Communications

"As a Strategic Design Researcher in the front end R&D space, my job is to sense the edges, recognize patterns, and uncover new opportunities. I find myself  in awe of social media's  amplifying power to connect people and ideas, while often feeling overwhelmed by its sheer volume and noise, and uneasy with the new rules of engagement.  Howard's class provided a well guided path for me to learn and experiment with some of the most advanced social media tools.  I learned not only how to manage my attention, obtain credible content, but also build my own on-line reputation by reciprocating my networks with well curated, credible and delightful content.  The class dynamics fostered an open, supportive and collaborative environment for me to share my discoveries with other co-learners, leverage their experiences, and most importantly, practice the new vernacular and rituals of network participation."

— Ming-Li Chai, Strategic Design Researcher, Microsoft Lync Design Group

Live Session

NetVibes Dashboard