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Friday, April 08, 2005

Information Overload & Diminishing Event Horizons!!

Paul Kedrosky points to a good piece on Information Overload by Scott White. Excerpts with edits and coments added:

There is just too much of information. Notwithstanding the normal channels such as email, friends to stay in touch with, meetings to attend to, research papers that one needs to stay on top of, books to read, Tivo recordings and so forth. Now that RSS feeds have become ubiquitous, one could have literally hundreds of posts each day from highly selective sources coming through feed aggregators. To make matters worse, people are now finding ways to take non-textual informational sources such as audio files (e.g. podcasting) and even video files and tying that to RSS. In the near foreseeable future, it will be possible to tie together something like RSS and BitTorrent and have Hollywood blockbusters, independent films, and quarterly conference calls all streamed right when they are released (notwithstanding the legal implications). A large fraction of the people one interacts with are walking around with their eyes glazed, seemingly on auto-pilot, speaking a mile a minute about this blog they read, this documentary they Tivo'd, this video they saw on the Net, this new startup company that's hot.

Here comes the assessment of the implications to infomation overload : what happens when we start to experience more, when more opportunities for interaction become available and more and more events interrupt our nourmal course of awareness, thereby disrupting our ability to settle into long moments of concentration, sometimes called flow? Result: the event horizon beyond which we perceive as the distant past gets closer and closer to the present. The present becomes more muddled and fuzzy. And the future begins to feel more like the present. The overabundance of high signal/low noise information channels is having a deep impact on our sense of time. People no longer have time to read books. Instead they read magazines. It is important to think carefully about the consequences of this new technological ecosystem we are building and how we can build better interfaces not only for filtering and summarizing information, but also to prioritize information and ideally tell us when enough is enough and it's time to go to bed.
My Take:The fundamentally strong get stronger and better with more information availability - agreed information overload is having suboptimal benefits -it boils down to careful selection of information and personal effectiveness -while it is true that demands on individuals to stay abreast in all forms brings enormous pressure to cope with.

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