Information overload

It seems that ever since we began with computers the term information overload has been with us.

However the concept is not new. In The Chronicle Review Ann Blair writes in the article Information Overload, Then and Now

Early negative responses include Ecclesiastes 12:12 (“Of making books there is no end,” probably from the fourth or third century BC) and Seneca’s “distringit librorum multitudo” (“the abundance of books is distraction,” first century AD). But we also find enthusiasm for accumulation—of papyri at the Library of Alexandria (founded in the early third century BC) or of the 20,000 “facts” that Pliny the Elder accumulated in Historia naturalis (completed in AD 77). Though we no longer care especially about ancient precedent, we hear the same doom and praise today.

In addition to this in 1755 Denis Diderot wrote in Encyclopédie

As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes.

The issue gets more problematic by the fact that our computing powers have been increasing over the past decades. This increase in computing power tends to cloud the problem of information overload by alleviating the problem but it does nothing to resolve the fundamental problem.

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