Is “Information Overload” a myth – or, at least, not really a problem? tackles this question in Don’t Touch That Dial! A history of media technology scares, from the printing press to Facebook by Vaughan Bell. It is a fun and enlightening read.  Here’s the concluding paragraph:

The writer Douglas Adams observed how technology that existed when we were born seems normal, anything that is developed before we turn 35 is exciting, and whatever comes after that is treated with suspicion. This is not to say all media technologies are harmless, and there is an important debate to be had about how new developments affect our bodies and minds. But history has shown that we rarely consider these effects in anything except the most superficial terms because our suspicions get the better of us. In retrospect, the debates about whether schooling dulls the brain or whether newspapers damage the fabric of society seem peculiar, but our children will undoubtedly feel the same about the technology scares we entertain now. It won’t be long until they start the cycle anew.

{off topic:  Here’s a favorite quote from the above quoted Douglas Adams:
A learning experience is one of those things that say, “You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.”}

My take:  I don’t worry that information overload will make me mentally ill (other things might…), or that it is going to dull my brain.  And I do think that the more we know, the more we know.

But, I have never learned as much about as much as I do now at this stage in my life.  It is information learning – books, articles, essays, NPR…  How do I keep track of all this information – which feels like overload?  That is what I wrestle with…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *