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Former Google CIO back with book, start-up

After a short stay in digital music, Douglas Merrill has written the book "Getting Organized in the Google Era" and founded a new financial-services company.

Who better to show people how to handle information in the digital era than a former Google chief information officer?

Douglas Merrill, former Google CIO, says don't try to multitask. Splitting your attention makes you dumber. Broadway Business

Douglas Merrill, Google's CIO until leaving in 2008 to steer EMI Music's digital unit, is raising his profile again a year after leaving the record label. He's written a book that he says can help people improve their cognitive skills and he's also founded a new start-up.

Merrill is the co-author of "Getting Organized in the Google Era," a book that offers advice to people who wish to improve their memories and sharpen their focus during a period of information overload.

He says that multitasking is self-defeating because our brains are poor at storing information. He says when we shift our attention our brains have less capacity for remembering and our efficiency plummets.

Merrill's expertise on this subject goes way beyond his tenure at Google. He has a Ph.D. in cognitive science, but also has learned to manage his brain power to deal with dyslexia. Merrill could not be reached for comment.

Merrill was the CIO at Google from 2003 to 2008. He helped take Google public in August 2004. In 2008, he opted to try to help pull EMI out of a long slump. He resigned after not quite a year at the recording company. He might consider that move a smart one now. EMI is in upheaval as it tries to avoid defaulting on loans to Citigroup.

In an interview Merrill gave the Greeley (Colo.) Tribune, Merrill said that he has recently founded a new start-up that will be involved in the "financial services credit space." Merrill is scheduled to give a speech on Wednesday at the University of Northern Colorado. He told the Tribune that his new company is in stealth mode.