“Information overload” is one of the biggest irritations in our modern life. There are e-mails to answer, virtual friends to pester, YouTube videos to watch and, back in the physical world, meetings to attend, papers to shuffle and spouses to appease. Occasionally, surveys even find that the data deluge has made our jobs less satisfying or has hurt our personal relationships.
Commentators have coined a profusion of phrases to describe the anxiety and anomie caused by too much information: “data asphyxiation” (William van Winkle), “data smog” (David Shenk), “information fatigue syndrome” (David Lewis), “cognitive overload” (Eric Schmidt) and “time famine” (Leslie Perlow). Johann Hari, a British journalist, notes that there is a good reason why “wired” means both “connected to the internet” and “high, frantic, unable to concentrate”.
Some suggestions on what to do with information overload can be found at this blog entry: