Information overload

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Description

"Information overload refers to the state of having too much information to make a decision or remain informed about a topic." (Wikipedia) "Effects of too much information include anxiety, poor decision-making, difficulties in memorizing and remembering and a reduced attention span." ([2]) Large amounts of currently available information, a high rate of new information being added/changed, contradictions in available information and inefficient methods for comparing and processing information all contribute to information overload.

Enablers

  • Large amount of information available: the internet, mobile telephones, broadband connections, e-books, spam, e-mail and other communication media et cetera. (Thus, information overload is strongly enabled by technological advances.)
  • High rate of change: adding and adjusting information is easier than ever, resulting in even more loss of control for the end user.
  • Signal-to-noise-ratio: the proportion of useful information (which really fullfil your information need) in all available information diminishes.
  • Inefficient information tools: thousands of information sources, information often contradicts other information and so on, makes it very complicated for users.

Inhibitors

  • More efficient information tools: portals, price comparing websites, better search engines et cetera do have substantial value for users of information (i.e. consumers).

Paradigms

  • Information overload is a feel. It gives people the feel of loosing control.
  • Since information overload is psychological, it differs from person to person.
  • People tend to think: information is good, the more information I get, the better the decisions I take will be.
  • The overload might result in resistance to take and process even more information ([1]).
  • Much information nowadays answer questions which aren't asked yet ([1]).

Experts

Not relevant.

Timing

Started to grow exponentially after WW2; parallel to advances in information and communication technology. This trend will continue, however, there also will be advances (e.g. better search engines, specialized web portals, content managers) which will - at least partially - give back control to the users of information.

Web Resources