The danger of information overload


Al-Riyadh newspaper

In the past, humanity was sunk, for centuries, into a form of ignorance that was scandalous and where illiteracy was rampant. However, I am a bit embarrassed to say that the abundance of information these days is turning into a constant issue of aggravation.

The amount of information at our disposal is increasing; by 2025, web information will increase 30 times. Because of this, professionals, such as engineers or doctors, need to read thousands of books. Hundreds of specialist books and millions of websites need to be updated with the latest discoveries and inventions.

Of course, there are professionals who know how to get the information they need, and search engines are good at selecting information. But the abundance of information causes many professionals to lag behind and forces people to waste their time working on projects that already exist.

Even if we assume that a lot of people read these days, none of them can read more than 3,000 books during their whole life. To read 3,000 books, they would have to daily read 50 pages or read small books on a weekly basis. Furthermore, while they were reading, two million more books would be added to the world library, in addition to billions of megabytes of information on the web.

Biologically, you might think there is no problem because the human brain can process enormous amounts of data. It can receive, comprehend and save the Britannica Encyclopedia using only a tiny amount of space. However, the human brain functions slowly when it receives new data (one word per second). This means that if a person read for 10 hours every day for 70 years, his brain could only comprehend 30 million units of data, that is, of course, if a person could read that much.

Therefore, those in the new generation are faced with the problem of information overload and the need to know as much as they can in order to cope in the world. Many of them choose to never read and remain ignorant for their own peace of mind.