Systems Thinking

Information Overload: Top 10 Quotes

“Information overload occurs when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity. Decision makers have fairly limited cognitive processing capacity. Consequently, when information overload occurs, it is likely that a reduction in decision quality will occur.” (Bertram Gross, “The Managing of Organizations”, 1964)

“My experience indicates that most managers receive much more data (if not information) than they can possibly absorb even if they spend all of their time trying to do so. Hence they already suffer from an information overload.” (Russell L Ackoff, “Management misinformation systems”, 1967)

“One of the effects of living with electric information is that we live habitually in a state of information overload. There’s always more than you can cope with.” (Marshall McLuhan, “The Best of Ideas”, 1967)

“We live in and age of hyper-awareness, our senses extend around the globe, but it’s the case of aesthetic overload: our technical zeal has outstripped our psychic capacity to cope with the influx of information.” (Gene Youngblood, “Expanded Cinema”, 1970)

“[…] in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” (Herbert Simon, “Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World”, 1971)

“What about confusing clutter? Information overload? Doesn’t data have to be ‘boiled down’ and ‘simplified’? These common questions miss the point, for the quantity of detail is an issue completely separate from the difficulty of reading. Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information.” (Edward R Tufte, “Envisioning Information”, 1990)

“We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.” (Jean Baudrillard, “Simulacra and simulation”, 1994)

“One of the effects of living with electric information is that we live habitually in a state of information overload. There’s always more than you can cope with.” (Marshall McLuhan, “Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews” , 2003)

“The instinctual shortcut that we take when we have ‘too much information’ is to engage with it selectively, picking out the parts we like and ignoring the remainder, making allies with those who have made the same choices and enemies of the rest.” (Nate Silver, “The Signal and the Noise”, 2012)

“Complexity has the propensity to overload systems, making the relevance of a particular piece of information not statistically significant. And when an array of mind-numbing factors is added into the equation, theory and models rarely conform to reality.” (Lawrence K Samuels, “Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action”, 2013)

More quotes on “Information Overload” at sql-troubles.blogspot.com.