Too much information

Today I learned that suicide rates in the OECD show no systematic relation with GDP per capita, that 35% of the working-age people in the OECD area are without a job and found out about why some countries are scared about winning the Eurovision song contest for economic considerations.

Lately, it seems like the availability of information that I so cherish is getting a bit out of hand. When I turn on the computer I am swept over by a wave of information, it follows me everywhere and increasingly keeps my mind from focussing on one thing only. Maybe that is why sitting down in the kitchen with a cup of coffee, just quietly looking out onto the sky has become my current favorite activity. Increasingly, I find myself doing several things at once, while all of them previously required undivided attention. I currently have 14 tabs open in Chrome, 8 applications running on my computer and several notifiers going off every few minutes. Even listening to music has turned into holding my toe into the global pool of stuff out there: For a bit over a week, the Netherlands have been having access to Spotify, a Swedish online music streaming service that will play just about anything for a small monthly fee. It is terrific, because it gives you unlimited access to ALL the music out there, but upon launch it also confronts you with that small searchbox, prompting you to enter what you want to listen to today.

All of this is utterly fascinating, yet I am growing increasingly torn between that fascination and the feeling that it might be a bit too much. What I encounter on a day-to-day basis is probably way too much random data to do anything with. Nevertheless, I can’t seem to stop cramming it into my head, keeping tabs on it with all sorts of fancy web 2.0 bookmarking and note-taking services, following it all both at home and on the go. I get my first dose of information when waking the phone from airplane mode in the morning and finish a typical day like that as  well.

Time will tell what the greater implication of having a never-ending torrent of information being poured into our heads will do to our attention span. I feel like it is slowly eating mine up. But then again, that might be due to the nature of what I am currently working on.

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