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IF YOU THINK YOU'RE OVERLOADED... : 10 Southern Californians and Their Information Age Strategies

January 22, 1989|DAVID DEVOSS

DIGBY DIEHL, book editor, Playboy

I receive about 100 books a week for possible review. My mail comes in plastic buckets. UPS and Federal Express fight to get through my door. I used to be able to set aside science fiction, women's romances and children's books because they weren't taken seriously, but now I have to look at them, too. I spend my mornings reading first chapters. By and large, if a novel doesn't excite me in the first 20 pages, it's out the door. About 55,000 books are published each year, but not all contain original ideas. Most of the business management books on how we can beat the Japanese are identical. Since the number of books published increases 10% a year, I don't have time for much TV. But "The Cosby Show" is not so compelling when the alternative is a novel by John Updike.

GLORIA MOLINA, Los Angeles city councilwoman

Why can't people write basic English? Not even our executive summaries are concise. The environmental-impact report on the East L.A. prison was 8 inches thick. USC's economic-impact report on the smog-reduction plan consisted of arcane demographics and economic formulas. I had no idea how they arrived at their conclusions. Sometimes I sit there, knowing I have an important vote to cast the following day, and say to myself, "I don't know what this means." The Community Redevelopment Agency budget was so dense I finally had to send the agency a list of questions. The response totaled 150 pages, twice the size of its budget.

BILL REDEKER, Fox television anchorman

A decade ago, you had a daily newspaper and two wire services. Today, there's much more news. Between reading the three major news magazines, I watch the morning news, spend an hour reading The Times, listen to KNX, monitor CNN throughout the day and look at all three major nightly network news shows. A producer saves me a lot of time by sorting hundreds of stories into 22 computer baskets. By the time I arrive at 4 p.m., we've got everything from Italian bomb threats to AIDS in mice. With all this information, however, mistakes occasionally occur. Sometimes I open the Lotto file and find Palestinians. I'm totally dependent on my computer. Where did people ever find the time to go rip stories off a wire machine?

CRAIG BUTLER, designer, partner of Butler Kosh Brooks, and co-founder and creative director of The Workbook

Design is so nebulous. Design can be anything from an attitude to an idea. Everything I do demands pages of information. I scan three newspapers, subscribe to the trades and listen to radio news. I look at hundreds of photographic portfolios and read 15 ad magazines, everything from Ad Age and Confetti to Zoom. Stacks of Time and Newsweek and back copies of Spy, Life and Esquire fill my house. I'm mentally exhausted by this blur of information. The longer I'm in the design business, the more there is to know. This fear of feeling that I don't know is driving me nuts. I have a recurring nightmare that something is happening and I don't know what it is.

MIKE GLICKMAN, president, Mike Glickman Realty Inc.

I have to be aware of everything that could influence the purchase of a house. That's why I subscribe to more than 100 real-estate newsletters, legal journals and economic reports. I read 28 different Sunday newspapers from across the country. I also review every listing, escrow and sales report from the 1,400 people in my six offices. I spend two hours every night studying data sent to the FAX machine in my house. For many people, the flood of information available today just causes anxiety. People who try to study all the background on fixed, assumable and variable interest rates usually find the price of the house has gone up by the time they make a decision.

JAMES LENTS, executive officer, South Coast Air Quality Management District

I receive more than 100 documents, letters, journals and reports each day. I can't disregard anything because, in this job, the political information is just as important as the technical. With millions of bits of information passing by me, I've given up trying to memorize statistics. I just try to understand concepts. I have to deal with 10 times more information than a decade ago. Ten years ago, who thought about the Earth getting warmer? Now there's an entire body of knowledge on the greenhouse effect. I used to garden, but who has time for a hobby anymore?

DONALD B. RICE, president and chief executive officer, RAND Corp.

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