When I began grad school a few years back, I had to adjust to the culture of paper writing. Being a Kinisiology major for my undergrad work, I was more accustomed to the “learn by doing” method of education. I can count on one hand the number of research papers I had to write.
But, when I got into a more theologically based education, not only did the writing load increase, I was also struck by the amount of information I had to parse through to understand the prevailing opinions on certain subjects or ideas.
In one class I tackled the story of Nadab and Abaiu out of Leviticus chapter 10. So, I went to find the best source of information regarding this seldom studied book of the bible. I was led to not one book, but three seperate books by a guy named Jacob Milgrom.
Book one (chapters 1-16) was 1163 pages.
Book two (chapters 17-22) was 625 pages.
Book three (chapters 23-27) was 819 pages.
That is 2607 pages of Levitical goodness about a 27 chapter book in my bible that is about 20 pages long.
As Liz Lemmon would say: “What the what”?
Needless to say, I was overwhelmed from the beginning. Even seasoned scholars with nothing else to do with their time would struggle through that much information and make sense of it. I tried to incorperate as much as I could into my paper and I ended up making a mediocre grade. If I recall, the professors’s comments revolved around the idea of keeping things simple and focusing on my thesis.
I didn’t understand what to do with all of the other information. What made that info less true than what I had included in my paper?
And, that is the problem we face with technology and the internet.
You see, there is more information available now than ever. And if what I read is correct, by the time you read this blog, the information you have available to you will probably have doubled. You can read about it here: http://www.cawood.com/blog/information-doubling
You see, there is an estimation that because of the world we live in – the internet, and the mass media- information will double every day beginning late this year. Research shows the amount of information available doubled between the birth of Christ and Leonardo DaVinci.
That’s around 1400 years. And, if the theory holds, information available will have doubled by tomorrow.
If this is true, I have a couple of questions to consider on the amount of info available:
1. How much can the human mind actually retain and use effectively?
2. At what point does “information overload” set in and turn against us?
3. How do we distinguish what is real and total crap?
Over the next few weeks I will explore these questions based upon the idea of information doubling.
How about you? Have you experienced an information overload from the internet? How do you deal with the overload?