Product & Startup Builder

The brain is designed to handle information overload

Added on by Chris Saad.
Earl Mardle has written a post about Scoble's Social Media Overload post and quoted the part where Robert quotes me (yes confusing).

"[...] That leads Chris Saad to ask when we’re going to get overloaded? Oh, Chris, we’re well past that point."
Earl then writes a very interesting response.

"He's right, we're past it. Can we just stop talking about information overload? We've been told about every 12 months for the last decade that we are "suffering" from information overload and the net result has been that every following 12 months we have found ways to multiply the amount of information that comes pouring through our connections."

I also think he's right. Talk about Information Overload is like talking about air - it just is. However, Robert actually misquoting me. I was not asking about information overload. My question to Robert was actually about scaling the social aspects of social media.

The premise is that consuming information is one thing, but interacting and responding with people is another. My question was how many people can you possibly have 1:1 meaningful interactions with. Can Scoble really add hundreds of names and connect with each of them? Maybe so - but could Oprah add all her audience as friends (thus converting them into participants)? Obviously not.

Forgetting that for a moment though, Earl goes on to make a great point about the concept of Information Overload:

"I have a theory; the 'real world" creates and dumps on us levels of information via multiple senses that is many, many orders of magnitude deeper in bandwidth than anything that we can even conceive of coming across the net. Our ability to contact, filter, manage, organise and act on that information is already honed to a very high degree.

Even increasing device-based information tenfold represents a trivial increase in that information load and we actually have no problem dealing with it. To invert Parkinson's Law, our ability to handle information expands in direct proportion to is availability.

Earl's corollary; once we realise that there are deeper wells of information to be drawn on, we dive in."

I think that is a fascinating perspective on the issue. I have never seen anyone think about it in quite that way. Maybe information overload is a myth. Maybe we can each scale up our bandwidth as our needs require. Maybe scaling up isn't even necessary - as Early suggests, maybe our senses are far more capable than we imagine.


I am sure some help with our senses would come in handy though - after all - most of us use sunglasses to help filter the sun right?