Information Overload

Another good post from Seth Godin: The inevitable decline due to clutter.

Seth’s posts are often so short that it’s difficult to extract a snippet or teaser without grabbing the whole thing, but here goes:

Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention. More clutter isn’t free. In fact, more clutter is a permanent shift, a desensitization to all the information, not just the last bit.

I think he makes a great point.  The more junk information we are forced to endure, the better we have to be a fending it off.  It’s not worth wading through the um, trough, to find the occasional gem any more.

Here’s my amusing and illustrative anecdote:

Last summer, my church was going to have a picnic.  I knew the details were supposed to be in the  bulletin one Sunday, but I couldn’t find it.  I looked through the whole thing multiple times.

After the service, I took it up to the pastor and asked why there was no announcement.  He gently pointed out that 1/3 of the second page was a full color announcement with all the details. You see, I don’t see advertising any more.  I subconsciously filter it out.  I have learned that Full Color bits in a black and white medium == advertisement, and advertisements are to be filtered out.

tregonsee.jpgThere is an old (1950’s) sci-fi series I’ve always enjoyed for the illustrations it gives me – The Lensmen, by E.E. Doc Smith.  One of the human characters (Kimball Kinnison?) has a device that allows him to communicate with his partner (Tregonsee?), who is of a race of blind but telepathic and clairvoyant aliens (Rigellians?).  As they are driving thorough an alien city, in a car with no windows, he is able to see his surroundings because of his telepathic link — except for some mysterious dark ovoids.  It turns out that these are the clairvoyant alien equivalent of our highway billboards — and they are simply filtered out by the experienced clairvoyant.

How do you see advertising?

My other favorite story is about their super advanced computers on their super advanced space ships.  These computers are so fast that they can process millions of punch cards per second.

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