Does information overload matter?

Recently I’ve been involved in quantity vs. quality arguments related to the web.  I have a half-baked thought I wanted to share, in hopes someone else already has baked it. Or can now.

In this simple chart, we see someone’s information consumption. At some point, they are aware of so many websites, blogs, tv shows, etc. that they feel personally overwhelmed.

The amount of content in the world is always growing, as is our awareness of information made before we were born. Therefore the possible information a person could consume continues to increase over time and is well beyond a person’s individual capacity to ever read, see, think or even know about it all.

The question then is this: Does the space beyond a person’s point of information overload matter? Since it’s beyond their threshold (they are already overloaded), does it matter if there are 5, 10, 100 or 1000 other blogs or books to read? Or if 5, 10, or 10,000 new blogs or books are made?

If information overload is a constant, we’re indifferent to whatever is beyond that constant since we don’t experience it any differently than the overload we already have.

There is a notion the world is polluted with information. And that reckless publishing or creation is bad. This might be true, but that ship has sailed. We won’t be eliminating information from the world. Therefore:

Hypothesis: It doesn’t make the world any worse to add more information to it, since we can’t be/feel more overloaded than we already do.

What do you think? Opinions? Flaws? Improvements? Has someone else written about this before?

48 Responses to “Does information overload matter?”

  1. JohnO

    I think this is reminiscent of the 80/20 software argument. The 20 percent I care about is not the same 20 percent of knowledge that someone else cares about. So yes, it is worthwhile to keep adding to what you care about.

    Moreover, this is not zero sum. We forget things, and learn new things all the time. We shift the areas of knowledge we are interested in. Continue to add to knowledge that you care about.

    Third – if more people we aware of this fact they would not be so dogmatic about their views aka “you know less than you think”. Humility is good :)

    Reply
  2. Tim Meaney

    But doesn’t marginal content make it less likely for an individual to find relevant content? In other words, in a sea of infinite irrelevant content, the likelihood of one person finding something relevant is decreased. So the population of marginal content above my threshold for consumption does matter, in that serves to hide the relevant.

    Reply
  3. gregorylent

    of course you are right … as any yogi could tell us … yogis rarely get consulting fees though :-)

    Reply
  4. Brian

    While I agree with your central argument that it doesn’t make the world any worse to add more information to it, I think you’re looking at from the wrong angle. Your argument seems to be from the perspective of content producers – that they could have some level of responsibility for keeping my information overload in check.

    That’s total bullshit.

    Managing time and attention has never been harder (case in point: I’m commenting on a blog post when I should be working). However managing my attention is my job, not yours.

    Has someone else written about this before? Absolutely. My favourite post on the topic (which I probably also first read when I should have been working) is Real Advice Hurts by Merlin Mann (http://www.43folders.com/2008/12/03/real-advice-hurts). In it, he lambastes the “tip culture” on the web, and how many of us would rather read advice about what we do for a living than actually go make stuff.

    Reply
  5. Richard Petersen

    Absolutely agree with Brian. There’s a HUGE difference between consuming and acting. However, I think that we should also be careful about lumping evrything we mentally consume as “information.” Does information include facts, current events, data, analysis, commentary, opinion, knowledge and insight? These are all just links in our tweets, post in RSS feeds, or comments on blogs. We had the same problem before with e-mail – some was spam, some were jokes or gossip, and others were critical information for our work. But each appeared identically as an entry in our inbox. That’s why we hate e-mail, right? Perhaps this is a counter-argument to McLuhan – if the medium homogenizes the content, then have we lost the message?

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  6. Benoit Fleury

    I don’t know if the information overload is constant in time. I remember reading somewhere that we don’t remember well our early years because we were overwhelmed with the amount of information around us. We would then develop patterns through the years that help us to limit the amount of information to remember.

    Moreover, you might also be able to increase your information overload threshold using tools, like a computer. One advantage of this information overload might be that we recognize the need for developing methods or tools to deal with it.

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  7. Jen

    JohnO makes some good points. Regarding your diagrams, I don’t think information overload is a constant. Adding information in and of itself is not bad, but consider more carefully the word “pollute” in this context. If the quality (in this case bad) and quantity of the information we are putting out hinders the ability to find that which is good and correct, then yes, adding more “polluting” information would be bad. Let’s hope the evolution of search can keep up!

    Maybe you could clarify your hypothesis some – your diagrams reference the individual but the verbiage used in your hypothesis is “world”. Information overload affects the individual differently than it affects communities and the world as a whole. Can we collectively experience information overload?

    Reply
  8. Josh Hinds

    The main thing that comes to mind for me is that the feeling of information overload has nothing to do with the amount of information that is out there, and everything to do with how the information is consumed. Modern technology enables consumption like we have never seen before. Today we have instant access to pretty much anything and we have an urgency to get more rather than digest what we just had.

    So, I would agree there is no harm in adding more information to the world, but we have a lot to learn when it comes to effectively managing our information diet.

    Reply
  9. Glen Sharp

    Good topic!
    The information overload threshold is not fixed as it is affected by new developments that can increase capacity. Also information overload has a lot to do with information discovery and filtering so more information above the threshold just means that it is becoming ever more challenging to discover the most relevant information and filter out the other possibilities. More information means more choices and potentially higher quality below the line if the information can be selected well from a larger set of alternatives.

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  10. Andy Blackstone

    To extend JohnO’s thought: The trick will continue to be to move the horizontal line of the individual’s information overload up by making it more efficient to find the 20% the individual is interested in. Bet on more and more creative search (add the ability to search within search results), filtering, other ways of discovering and delivering new information that haven’t been invented yet. You might say that there’s actually no such thing as information overload if information is processed correctly.

    Reply
  11. Scott Berkun

    Tim: Yes, more marginal content makes it harder to find good content, if it’s a fixed amount of stuff. The hypothesis is that once it’s sufficiently hard to find good content, it doesn’t matter how much more content there is. Or something like that.

    Reply
  12. Scott Berkun

    Jen: Good questions, but I don’t have answers :)

    The idea of an information overload constant is weird I admit, especially when I don’t bother to define what information overload even means.

    Still thinking. Thanks for the comments.

    Reply
  13. Scott Berkun

    Brian wrote:

    However managing my attention is my job, not yours.

    Indeed. I suppose that’s part of the hypothesis: that anyone who chooses to make isn’t necessarily making anything worse by adding more information to the world, since it’s not as if any person is ever choosing between all of the information in the world all at once.

    From the day we had libraries, which posses more books than any one person could read in a life time, we had information overload of a kind. The creation of another book, or another library, didn’t make that problem any worse. There were already more books than someone could read in a life time – does it matter if the total number of books equaled 5 lifetimes? 25? That’s my point.

    In relation to the diagram, the “constant” is one lifetime’s worth of books. And the hypothesis then is that once that constant is crossed, it does no damage to a person that there are 25 lifetimes worth of additional books in the world.

    Reply
  14. Drew @ How To Cook Like Your Grandmother

    Do you have Netflix? We’ve got three profiles (self, wife, and kids). Among them we’ve probably got well over 100 titles in our queues. And a good portion of those are series titles. There’s no way we’ll watch everything this year, and more is coming out all the time.

    I have things in my queue that I’ve already seen, but long ago. The risk of wasting time watching something unknown that turns out to suck is worse than the cost of watching a repeat.

    Sometimes I just want something to keep my brain sufficiently engaged to make it through the popcorn without checking my email. Oh, The Bourne Ultimatum is on again? Yeah, that’ll do.

    Reply
    • Scott Berkun

      Netflix queue is a great example. I have 200 items in my instant queue. About 50 is more than I can possibly remember or even comprehend. Will my sense of information overload regarding my queue be worse if it had 250 items? 500? 1000? 10000?

      The hypothesis above says no, it doesn’t. Once I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed and adding another item to the queue doesn’t make it any worse.

      Reply
  15. Marcin

    The more BS around the harder it is to find the “real stuff”? The longer it takes you to find the information that is worth investing your time in…?

    The longer it takes you to start living with the confidence that the information and knowledge you have is sufficient or even better then needed?

    hmmm that made me think he he ;)

    Reply
  16. Vasu Srinivasan

    You are right. The relevant discourse is not about dealing with information overload, but about dealing with our new pastime of skimming, which doesn’t come standard with a filter.

    Reply
  17. LeRoyD

    Scott, the key thing is that people are always looking to swap out less useful bits of information that they consume with more useful bits of information. With there being more and more information available as we move forward in time, ideally we will be able to find more and more truly useful (to us) things to consume in our rather finite information consumption ability.

    I also believe that for those who do a lot of consuming of online information, our ability to consume more (your horizontal line on the graphs representing overload) can and does move upward.

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  18. nick

    I think there is a distinction to be made between abundance of information and information overload.

    Libraries are certainly abundant with information, but do you feel overloaded by all that information when you go there? No, because everything is categorized and you’re usually looking for something specific. You don’t go to a library to read until you get overloaded.

    On the web on the other hand, I think it is much easier to get overloaded by information, because the medium is interactive. But interactiveness also means that there should be more ways to filter the information so that people don’t get overloaded.

    Once people get overloaded, they pay less attention, start looking for distractions and their attitude towards getting more information and making sense of it changes, so I think we should ultimately aim to avoid information overload.

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  19. Lou

    Is the point of “information overload” fixed? I’d think it could grow over time so the question may be what is the rate of information vs the point at which one feels they can’t cope.

    With the first library, there was already more information than a single individual could process at once. But writing things down is a way of coping. Search engines are a way of coping, etc.

    It seems to be more of a psychological question of at what point do you just not care enough to bother with either expanding your coping mechanisms or scaling the existing ones.

    Going back to your hypothesis, I’d disagree that it doesn’t make the world any worse. It isn’t an issue of information overload but more of personal responsibility to not pollute. You could also consider the flip side: if it isn’t making the world (or anyone but yourself) better, should we be doing it?

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  20. Cris

    I agree to a certain extent. On the matter of “It doesn’t make the world any worse to add more information to it …” I think it depends on the quality of information. Since I agree, we can only consume and use a finite amount of information. I do not want to weed through bad, misleading or inaccurate data in an attempt to cull out the nuggets that are truly worthwhile. Bad information simply increases the anxiety of information overload.

    Reply
  21. AndyMcA

    So few things with this idea (which might be slight repeats over what was said before…)

    I think the first thing is, like Scott said, define what exactly we mean by information overload, functionally. Its one thing to say that information overload is the point where you feel overwhelmed about the amount of information you are trying to process, but what exactly does that functionally mean? In my mind, I’m going to define information overload instead as information homeostasis — like JohnO, it’s not a zero sum, so info overload/homeostasis could be functionally defined as that state when the amount of information a person can hold and process either equals or is less than the amount of information a person “looses” within a given period (assuming that the information can be regained at a later date with minimal effort).

    I can think of 3 main factors that would effect your information overload/homeostasis threshold–content, timeframe, and environmental influences

    The scope of the time frame you are viewing also plays into information overload because I would say that your horizontal line marking information overload/homeostasis is not a constant, but rather adjusts up and down depending on more factors than I can pretend to count. For example, I’m more likely to hold a lot of information about books I read that interest me than a book that I could care less about. The threshold is higher for one and lower for another. So content should be considered.

    I’m more likely to retain information during certain periods of the day (read: not in the morning …. night owl all the way). Similarly, I’m more likely to retain information earlier in the week if it’s related to my job, but more likely to retain information about things that interest me during the later times of the week. So, the relationship between time and content also plays a role–I can retain more of a specific kind of content at specific times, while retaining less of another kind of a content at other times.

    Finally, the environmental factors would also play a role in information overload/homeostasis. Otherwise, why would people study at a library? Information retention there is easier because of the lack of environmental distractions, therefore you reach the info overload threshold later than you would in a more information rich environment. Just as an example …

    Now, what I think is interesting is that one could view technology as a way to increase that information overload threshold. So, now I can google things to “remember” them. So instead of remembering a whole slew of information, I could conceivably only need to remember key words or search terms to “recall” that information, allowing me to sift through an ever increasing amount of information. Tagging hunks of information allows me to be even more effective in this technologically-assisted recall of information by truncating what exactly it is I have to remember.

    Just some fun thoughts :-)

    Reply
  22. Kerry NZ

    Josh and Nick make good points.

    In your second para you start talking about consumption and then flip to awareness. Are these the same things? What is the connection between consuming books (ie reading) and being aware of the number of books out there?

    I think you need to be careful to distinguish between an overabundance of information, an overabundance of information that is useful to you, an overabundance of information that is useful to someone, and an overabundance of information that is immediately useful to someone/you at a particular point in time. Also be careful of falling into the trapping of treating learning like filling a bucket – which is a double fallacy: it assumes that 1) the mind has a fixed ‘size’ and 2) that what enters it always gets its own space separate from anything else (ie no pattern identification, no recombining, no emergent properties, etc).

    This reminds me of the discussions of the percentage of books that are translated into English in any year – generally thought to be too small – and how the discussion always misses the question of the percentage of books published in any year that are read by any individual – probably even smaller. Can we draw conclusions for publishing from reading?

    Do I have an information overload threshold? I’m not sure that I am conscious of one – although I subscribe to way more podcasts than I ever get around to listen to, the fact that I have subscribed to them does not mean that I feel I absolutely need to know what was on them. At present I don’t feel that there are sources of information that I have to keep up with (in terms of reading) and which exceed my ability to do so. Does it worry me that there is more information out there than I could possibly ever be aware of? No. This is the situation that has been around for as long as mankind.

    Reply
  23. Royal Winchester

    For starters, I like this thought provoking article and the comment thread as well. Nice :)

    What it makes me think of is that there is no reason to limit the information we are discussing to internet content, written word, etc. Like the library example, the world, the whole of our experience is incredibly rich and dense. I can just look outside and there is more there than I can even perceive. If someone else looks at the same view, they will see something different because their very perception is filtered by their perspective. One of the great enabling powers of our brain/minds the ability to filter and preemptively ignore almost everything bombarding our senses so we can organize stand make some sense of things for ourselves. While there is certainly an incredible amount of information out there in the world of written content, I just wouldn’t say that it is especially true of that compared to all the rest we have to sift through.

    So, is it bad to add to it? I see the point about marginal reduction of utility when you add more useless content. Which begs the question, “Useless in what context?” – but, anyway. I lean toward a view that you shouldn’t use this as the yardstick to decide if you should add or not. The amount out there is essentially infinite, so, given how poor we are at telling various infinities apart… I say, go for it!

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  24. Kerry NZ

    Just found this link which may help:
    http://theaporetic.com/?p=228

    The first para is:
    Peo­ple often argue that we have too much infor­ma­tion and too lit­tle atten­tion; that this is a con­di­tion of being “mod­ern.” But the oppo­site may be true: that atten­tion is a human con­stant and that it con­stantly seeks new forms. Where there’s “sur­plus atten­tion” we always come up with things to occupy it.

    Reply
  25. Jason McDonald

    Scott, the mistake I find is that you’re treating information overload logically when I think it is probably a more emotional phenomenon.

    What I mean is this. Your argument is if I can only handle 5 items, it shouldn’t matter whether there are 10 total items, or 50, or 5,000. Anything over my threshold of 5 is irrelevant. That’s just the logical fact.

    But emotion isn’t logical. If I’m 5 items behind that feels to me more manageable than if I’m 50 items behind, or 5,000 items behind. I feel more and more anxiety the further behind and out of touch I am. Is there an upper threshold to the emotional side? Perhaps, but I don’t know how we’ll ever measure it.

    And I think content providers do have an obligation to help manage information overload for others. We’re not islands. We’re a community (or we should be). The good of the other has a direct bearing on my well-being. I’m not in this alone.

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  26. Marcin

    I just noticed that in my case information overload happens when I start looking for things I don’t really need to know.

    Of course I don’t see this at the time of searching. It has even become a sort of addiction.

    I had a thought today, and came to the conclusion that this is all connected with the fact that I don’t cherish my time, and the fact that when I’m on the Internet I’m not really aware of how much time I’m using/wasting.

    In the past with libraries etc. you new how much knowledge cost, you felt the time you needed to go there and find the information, and because of this you respected your time more in this regard.

    You thought more about what you actually need, whereas now you first start reading and than try to decide whether you need more or not… I could go on forever about this…

    Reply
  27. Stephen James

    Maybe I am missing something, but wouldn’t the the information plot line, by definition, go flat as the time increases once someone hits “information overload,” since the information is not actually being remembered and time used is still increasing?

    I like using aggregators like PostRank to help me decrease the spigot.

    Reply
  28. Buster

    Good question. Five points and sorry for being long winded. I hope it is worth it:

    1. Loss – There is still a huge amount of information lost every day. Humans are only capturing and creating a small fraction of the “information” generated every minute. For example, how much of your conscious thought is recorded? How much of what you see or experience is lost to history? How many trees fall in the woods without anyone around? In addition, lots of information is already lost to history because it was never observed or recorded in the first place. Exactly how fast were you going 10.000 min from your house yesterday? What lane were you in? What was your exact thought at the time? What was the temperature?…

    2. Parallel vs Serial – Our brains have at least two CONOPS for managing information. The parallel processing systems (five senses, especially vision) can handle a huge amount of information but it only forwards a tiny amount to the other system based on a complex attention system. The conscious system is much slower (1000 wpm?) but it is the one that we think of and the one you are alluding to. The aggregated internet and media distribution system is like an uber-parallel system and the attention of the herd is the equivalent attention of this pseudo-brain. The fact that any one person cannot process it all is like a neuron in your retina complaining that it cannot see the “big picture”. It cannot, and never can. Overload indeed.

    3. Patterns – The parallel processing system uses repetition, patterns, and contrast to determine what to focus on. Patterns compress irrelevant and redundant information to enable attention systems to separate the wheat (and tigers) from the chaff. For example – you don’t really even see the richness of the pattern on your granite countertop (see Temple Grandin’s books for a good discussion of this). All you really see is a portion and your brain fills in the rest.

    Patterns are great for two reasons:

    4. Repetition – Most information is repetitive or close enough to be grouped into a pattern. It would be interesting to see how many truly unique and interesting items were generated each day. This is exactly what “news” is supposed to be looking for.

    5. Relevance – Lets face it, most of the information out there is not relevant to your life. What will you do with it? Can you act on it? Does it matter to you that there was a traffic collision in Michigan (http://www.wzzm13.com/news/local/car_crash_story.aspx?storyid=147255&catid=194) or that two people there there got married (http://www.genwed.com/Announcements.htm)? Does it matter what I think or say? Probably not, unless it was a relative or a friend or revolutionary in nature. I will push the 80/20 mentioned earlier even harder. I think it is possibly as low as 99/1 or much, much, lower. There are over 6.8 billion people on the planet (6,892,222,394 on the census clock)…at 1000 wpm we could generate 6,892,222,394,000 words per minute (multiply by 3/4 if you want to account for sleep). Almost none of it is unique, nor useful to you. Then again, maybe it is VERY useful and you just never saw it.

    To put this all into a ball, you ask a very good and important question that is a direct consequence of our unprecedented connectivity. IMHO our brains will not be able to solve this problem but our technology and social networks can.

    Reply
  29. Michel Laan

    I was just wondering if the level at which information overload occurs is not lowering if the overload is growing. That means that the overload has a negative effect on the total amount of information an individual can “accept”.

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  30. Kathy Sierra

    Add me to the “the amount DOES matter” camp, in at least two ways (already mentioned):
    * reduces chances of finding the good stuff
    * the perceived amount of possible info increases anxiety, a variant of the Paradox of Choice.

    Example: as the API increases, developers feel more and more stressed about what they do NOT know, despite having no increase in the amount of calls they actually need to learn and use in their work. Having been responsible for training Sun’s Java deva since the beta version of Java, you could watch the downfall… When the entire API fit on a centerfold of a magazine, everyone was happy. You learned what you needed, knowing the rest was “gettable” if you needed it, and also knowing that you had a good feel for what was possible. Then with Java 2 the API was suddenly big enough to require a poster you put on your wall. Finally, it exploded and you would need to wall
    paper your entire room.

    When it became larger, devs were not suddenly being asked to learn and use more. Yet they felt the continued pressure that they *should*… that they were falling behind, that mastery of the entire API was no longer do-able, etc. It was not a rational feeling, and we all knew it, but it was inescapable.

    Of course both issues could be fixed with kick-ass, trusted curation. We all just need someone we respect, believe, trust to tell us: there are 10 bazillion things in [x], but you only need these 20 and here they are, with sell-by dates so you’ll know when it is time to check for an update. We all need to know that someone is “smelling the milk” for us as well as deciding which milk is best for our situation, so WE can get on with what we are interested in doing… Using it.

    It is a form of “Don’t Make Me Think”. Cognitive load impairs our ability to focus and be in flow… And info anxiety is one huge cognitive leak. Always out there, chipping away at the back of our mind and stealing precious cycles. This is part of the appeal of GTD… a system designed to give you a sensation of closed leaks.

    I always love how you bring up such fun and thought-provoking topics.

    Reply
  31. Brad Balfour

    I think that Jason McDonald has brought up one of the more important points here. As much as we techies want to approach a problem like this logically, it isn’t logical.

    Yes there has been information overload since the library at Alexandria. Yes, once there is more than you can process, how much more is still “more”. But it doesn’t matter if your primitive emotional brain tells you you are missing something great. If you feel that sense that the stuff you “want” or the stuff you “need” is out of reach. And then we are all back to trying to assert our logic over the emotion and focus and concentrate. And few of us have mastered the Vulcan thing.

    To me, the key to defeating the emotion of Information Overload is in our tools. In the same way that we supplement the limits of human memory by keeping automated to-do lists, we need to be able to better process all the sources of info coming at us with tools to separate wheat from chaff.

    However, most tools so far have just made all the sources a river of text. And, as folks have noticed, this has its limits. My interest is in the use of visualization and graphics to give us a new level of assistance in this area.

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  32. Greg Linster

    Hey Scott,

    I would actually argue against your hypothesis. Not all information is of equal value; some information is simply better than other information. I realize that statement carries a lot of punch, but I believe it’s true. The more noise that is out there the harder it is to find the best and most accurate information. I can only consume information up to a certain threshold as you eloquently state, but the quality of the information I consume can vary. Again, the more noise out there, the more time I have to spend sorting through “junk” information to get to the good stuff.

    Thanks for sharing the idea.

    -Greg

    Reply
  33. Charlie

    Interesting question and comments. I am coming to this a few days late. Your opening reference point in starting the post was quantity vs. quality and I think that is a theme that also runs through many of the comments. Given the volume of information available, in the absence of some manner to filter quality there is very likely going to to be a big gap between the potential value of an information set and the value you can realize toward your action or decision.

    The idea of a threshold is interesting because it is likely a flexible notion depending on the consequences of the outcome. If the outcome is insignificant or the inquiry is casual then the threshold for overload may be low i.e. rapidly reached. But that is really also a reflection on the diminishing returns of further effort. This can be improved by using tools (such as predictive analytics) to move information that is more likely to be relevant into your field of view in theory displacing information that is less valuable but that would have required time to reach that conclusion. In other words, whether your threshold is 1 minute of inquiry or 1 year, moving more relevant information into the window improves the quality and confidence of the decision or action.

    Your topic has some similarities to a couple of other recent posts/thoughts. See
    Craig Roth post on the Gartner blog titled – From UX to AX (Attentional Experience). The post relates to the area of attention analytics that my company is also involved in. He observes “AX should improve the quality and timeliness of decision making and a good attentional experience will allow information workers to do that. A business whose users don’t notice important information or waste time with unimportant information are disadvantaged even if the individual user’s experience is fantastic.”

    It is also interesting to consider the role of curation as both a social interaction as well as a filtering mechanism. See Curation, Influence & Lethal Generosity on Shel Israel’s blog at http://tinyurl.com/65jqcj9

    Reply
  34. Bernard R Carpenter

    What about the intell that is not found in the stuff you do not look at?

    Reply
  35. Wayne

    From my perspective the key question is the information needed to make money. I don’t feel “overwhelmed” just because there are too many blogs to read, or too many films to watch. What makes me feel overwhelmed is when there’s too much on my “too do” list — which involves using my brain to process information since I work as a computer programmer. I have to rapidly learn new code libraries and API’s in order to keep my job, and all the programmers in my company have to in order for our company to stay competitive against the competition (we are behind and working our asses off trying to catch up). I wish I could double, or multiply by 10, the rate at which my brain can process information.

    Reply
  36. Kirill Nikolaev

    Yes, I write about it already. And your question and point of view is about information consumption. Problem with information overload that you have no one general answer what the reason for that. If you will answer for 2 questions, you will find the answer.

    Question 1. What is information ?

    Question 2. How you consume it?

    It looks simple, but try to answer it, and you will find that there is a lot of different points of view, and no one general answer for that.

    I am writing book at the moment and do master class about that subject.

    Reply
  37. Job Asiimwe

    The capacity of the human brain is finite. We’re each only limited by our anatomy. Believe it or not, some people are able to store more information that others other factors kept constant. I still think that the reason we may have this effect is because, we do not give the brain enough time to process the information we’re feeding it. Just like you’d choke of you shoveled food down your throat continuously, without giving the digestive system the time it needs.
    The human brain has the capacity of learning from the first day of birth all throughout a person’s lifetime. And although we may not remember event, it does not necessary mean that the information is not there. It simply means the brain has archived it. In most cases, the brain may just merge similar ideas into one sequence thus forgetting individual components but the idea still stands.
    Please note that these ideas are not facts just thoughts and opinions.

    Reply
  38. Leila Dawn

    Yikes. This comment thread is a sweet example of my experience of information overload. Before placing my comment, I want-and feel obliged-to read all the prior comments. But. There is sooo much information there. I think I’ll go take care of some chores instead. (And, this isn’t at all the comment I had in mind to make.)

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  1. […] Scott Berkun theorizes about information overload: # There is a notion the world is polluted with information. And that reckless publishing or creation is bad. This might be true, but that ship has sailed. We won’t be eliminating information from the world. Therefore: # Hypothesis: It doesn’t make the world any worse to add more information to it, since we can’t be/feel more overloaded than we already do. # That’s why everyone deserves the digital equivalent of a printing press. The more information the better, what I’m overloaded with someone else will cherish. # This entry was posted in Asides and tagged attention, information, publishing, reading, Scott Berkun. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. « RSS keeps me alive kickin’ […]

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