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Information Overload

David J. Grimshaw


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Information overload is a term first used in the early 1960s to indicate limits to human information handling capacity ( Meier 1962 ) and later by Toffler (1970) as one dimension of “future shock,” by which he broadly meant too much change in too short a time. Computer communications and the →  Internet have contributed to the realization of this “shock,” sometimes also referred to as “techno-stress” ( Weil & Rosen 1997 ). The term “information overload” has its roots in the context of computer-mediated communications (→  Human–Computer Interaction ), where it might typically be applied to an individual who receives a large number of emails per day and who experiences some difficulty in processing the volume of information. Lest one is tempted to think of information overload as a new problem, let us recall the words of T. S. Eliot (1934) , “where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” Eliot reminds us that turning information into knowledge is not easy and is far from automatic (→  Information Processing ). It is important to understand the process by which data is or can be transformed into knowledge. Since the advent of computer-based data processing there has been a vast increase in the capacity and capability for storing data and transforming it into information that can be used in decision-making (→  Information ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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