Slide 8 of 22
Overload - a ‘fashionable’ problem today largely as a result of the way ICTs have made it easier and easier to transfer information The technologies include e-mail, voice mail, mobile ‘phones, the Internet, and organizational intranets. The potential now exists for these technologies to be mis-used, rather than being used effectively and productively.
Part of the problem is caused by the fact that technological advances have made the retrieval, production and distribution of information so much easier than in earlier periods. This has reduced the natural selection processes which would otherwise have kept all but the most important information from being published. The result is an explosion in often irrelevant, unclear and inaccurate data fragments, making it ever more difficult to see the forest through the trees. This overabundance of low quality information, which Shenk (1997) has called "data smog", is comparable in its emergence and .effects to the pollution of rivers and seas caused by an excess of fertilizers, or to the health problems caused by a diet too rich in calories. The underlying mechanism may be called "overshooting": because progress has inertia, the movement in a given direction tends to continue even after the need has been satisfied. Whereas information used to be scarce, and having more of it was considered a good thing, it seems that we now have reached the point of saturation, and need to limit our use of it. Heylighen (2000)