Document (#41475)

Author
Standage, T.
Title
Information overload is nothing new
Issue
[August / September].
Source
https://www.1843magazine.com/technology/rewind/information-overload-is-nothing-new
Year
2018
Abstract
Do you fret about staying on top of a deluge of information? Don't worry, says Tom Standage, Leibniz felt the same
Content
"Overflowing inboxes, endlessly topped up by incoming emails. Constant alerts, notifications and text messages on your smartphone and computer. Infinitely scrolling streams of social-media posts. Access to all the music ever recorded, whenever you want it. And a deluge of high-quality television, with new series released every day on Netflix, Amazon Prime and elsewhere. The bounty of the internet is a marvellous thing, but the ever-expanding array of material can leave you feeling overwhelmed, constantly interrupted, unable to concentrate or worried that you are missing out or falling behind. No wonder some people are quitting social media, observing "digital sabbaths" when they unplug from the internet for a day, or buying old-fashioned mobile phones in an effort to avoid being swamped. This phenomenon may seem quintessentially modern, but it dates back centuries, as Ann Blair of Harvard University observes in "Too Much to Know", a history of information overload. Half a millennium ago, the printing press was to blame. "Is there anywhere on Earth exempt from these swarms of new books?" moaned Erasmus in 1525. New titles were appearing in such abundance, thousands every year. How could anyone figure out which ones were worth reading? Overwhelmed scholars across Europe worried that good ideas were being lost amid the deluge. Francisco Sanchez, a Spanish philosopher, complained in 1581 that 10m years was not long enough to read all the books in existence. The German polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz grumbled in 1680 of "that horrible mass of books which keeps on growing"."
Theme
Information

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