tOo MuCh InFoRmAtIoN cAn KiLl

Crazy Eddie! Not the only one who's insane!Sometimes I feel there’s too much information out there. I have about 30 RSS feeds in my aggregator, each with a dozen or so interesting articles I have yet to read. I have more than a dozen email accounts, each of which may receive email at any time. I have a cell phone and a land line and a Skype account. I belong to BOINC and I like to read BoingBoing. There are a dozen or more blogs I like to read. Today’s word of the day is “alfresco.” (The email just arrived.) Does this connected world ever make your head spin?

I love the articles that BoingBoing and Wired and Slashdot and the VillageVoice post, but it seems as if almost every minute there is something new to read. I was told that a former member of my writers’ group is now coding software to scan market news feeds and trade stock in milliseconds based on computer analysis of the text before a human being ever reads the article. All of this information is like candy for my curious mind. And just like candy, I can and will glut myself when a bowl is laid before my eyes.

HN51 Bird Flu, Ebola, Iraq, Supreme Court Nomination, GPL, Sony Rootkit, Religious Right, Intelligent Design, Evolution, SOHO (SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory), Astronomy Picture of the Day, Al Qaeda, George Bush, Oil, GOP, Dover, PA, Wikipedia, Flickr, Web 2.0, Enlarge your Penis!

One symptom of autism or Asperger’s syndrome (I forget which) is the inability to filter out data from consciousness. Some days, I feel symptomatic, assaulted from all sides by endless streams of information. Our tools are supposed to make it easier for us to sift through the deluge and find what’s relevant. But by breaking down news sources into even more abstract, broader hierarchies (this is really what aggregators do), we are opening up new streams of communication. Somehow, less is more.

And I want less. Much less. It’s fantastic that all this information is available, but at the rate it’s presented to me, I can only give each news source 1.7 seconds before moving on. And that doesn’t leave time for meals.