Academic journal article et Cetera

Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut

Academic journal article et Cetera

Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut

Article excerpt

David Shenk. Data Smog Surviving the Information Glut. New York: Harper, 1997.

Information, once rare and cherished like caviar, is now plentiful and taken for granted like potatoes. So says media scholar and cyber-pundit David Shenk, whose intriguing and well-written book assesses our culture's unquestioning devotion to information technology. Given faxes, e-mail, news, infotainment, and advertising is it any wonder that we are suffering from what the author terms "data smog" - too much information that confuses rather than enlightens. Some examples:

In 1971 the average American was targeted by at least 560 daily advertising messages. Twenty years later, that number had risen sixfold, to 3,000 messages per day.

Paper consumption per capita in the United States tripled from 1940 to 1980 (from 200 to 600 pounds), and tripled again from 1980 to 1990 (to 1,800 pounds).

The business manager may read one million words per week.

As of 1990, more than 30,000 telemarketing companies employed 18 million Americans, and generated $400 billion in annual sales.

Shenk tells us that all this data smog crowds out quiet moments, obstructs contemplation, and stresses us out. Whether it's increased attention deficit disorder or aggravated hypertension, stimulus overload is doing many of us in. …

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