Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

You can subscribe to this site via RSS (the humanity!) or .

What Information Overload?

Over the last few months I keep noticing discussions about so-called “problems” of the web that aren’t really affecting anyone. I’ve had whole conversations with people about how something like the addition of a score has effected the quality of posts on Tumblr only to stop and realize that I was arguing for something I haven’t experienced.

Information overload falls perfectly into this bucket. It’s a huge topic on the web, partly because it’s a huge topic off the web: Newspapers and magazines love covering it (probably because they’re the antidote). Anyway, New York Magazine has some type of story on the subject (which I may or may not read). The article has the following quote by an economist named Herbert Simon: “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.”

To which the always insightful (and never afraid to take the opposite position) Scott Rafer responded, “Information overload only occurs when the structure of the information being offered to you isn’t intuitive for you. It’s not the amount of information; it’s that you’re stuck in a meta-rut due to age, attitude, or lousy intellectual environment.” He’s right. I don’t feel like there’s too much information out there. I love the abundance. I live on the abundance. Sure, I miss stuff, but I always missed stuff and so did everyone else.

January 10, 2010