Surfing vs. Information Overload

Surfing vs. Information Overload

My main reaction to the idea of information overload is one of disbelief. David Allen does a wonderful job giving words to that disbelief:

"If information overload was the issue you’d walk into a library and die. The first time you surf the web, you blow up."

Now as we don’t have people dying or suffering a mental meltdown caused by information "overload", clearly we don’t mean "overload".

What we’re trying to say is; "Look, there’s too much information here to digest". To which my answer is; so?

If someone is clutching his stomach complaining about "food overload" caused by there being too much food to digest, you’d ask "but why in the world do you try to eat it all at the same time?!"

Take Television

Information abundance isn’t new. Just think about the thousands of television programs, the hundreds of hours you could spend in front of the tube. Hard news, breaking news, reportages, documentaries…

TV screens

Hear anyone complain?

Between 1993-2002 television program supply in Finland (PDF) increased by 73%; 23 additional TV program hours per day. Yet television viewing time over that same period increased by only 40 minutes a day.

And no-one is collapsing under TV, entertainment or information overload.

Why?

Don’t Try To Finish

Nobody in his right mind will try to finish watching all programs on all channels.

Likewise no-one around you is attempting to read all newspaper article in all newspapers. Or sitting in a library speed-reading all books.

And you yourself, when you sat down and connected to the World Wide Web, were just "surfing the web"; you weren’t actually trying to reach the "last page" and finish, were you?

The same holds true for your RSS feeds. Yes, there’re 1000+ unread items. Great! Even if everyone would stop publishing today, you would still have a ton of great reads ahead.

Because face it, you don’t need to "catch up" with all those unread items. Stand up! Surf! Welcome to the information wave.

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