How do you quantify “information overload”?

“We really are living in an age of information overload. Google estimates that there are 300 exabytes (300 followed by 18 zeros) of human-made information in the world today. Only four years ago there were just 30 exabytes. We’ve created more information in the past few years than in all of human history before us. On average, we take in five times as much information every day as we did in 1986 – the equivalent of 175 newspapers. YouTube uploads 6,000 hours of new video every hour. For every hour of YouTube videos you watch, you’re already 5,999 hours behind!”

Extract from Q & A with neuroscientist Daniel J Levitin, author of *The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight In The Age Of Information Overload”.


  • Janet

    I quantify information overload, or in this case choice overload, by the the amount of supermarket shelf space devoted to a single product. In many cases, e.g coffee there are dozens of different types, styles, brands and when you step back to get it all in perspective you either hit another shopper or the other side of the aisle.
    If we run out of bread, my husband has started to refuse to offer to get some because even the corner shop has nearly 20 different possibilities!

  • Roger Darlington

    Hi, Janet.

    I was in Czechoslovakia when it was Communist and there was a national shortage of toilet paper. I was asked if Britain ever had a national shortage of toilet paper.

    No, I explained, we have plenty of toilet paper and indeed lots of different types. My Czech friends asked me: why do you need a choice of toilet paper?!?


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