What Information is, And Why it Matters - Part 1

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2 years ago

The series "What Information Is, And Why It Matters" starts here.

This article attempts to understand the nature of information in order to realize what leads our lives. If there is a reason that leads our choices, this is definitely the word and the meaning of information. The information overload that today's society experiences are discussed in this part. The initial objective is to emphasize the phenomenon of the abundance of information in modern times while at the same time emphasizing the consequences of being exposed to large quantities of information.

Also, the blockchain technology that we are mainly interested in is based on it.

So let's start this journey...

In 1621, Oxford scholar Robert Burton, owner of one of the world's largest private libraries with 1,700 books, was impressed by the unprecedented abundance of information.

At the same time, Leibniz began to worry about the growing trend in book production because, as he put it,

"Ιn the end, disorder will become almost insurmountable.”


Eliot, in 1934, expressed it even more strongly:

Knowledge of speech, but not of silence

Knowledge of the words, and ignorance of the Word.

All our knowledge brings us closer to our ignorance, All our ignorance brings us closer to death, But closeness to death, not closer to GOD.

(Gleick, 2011: 561)

In 1963 two psychologists gave their work the title: Does anyone sometimes know too much? adding some alternative titles like never so many have achieved so littleDo you get more now but predict less? Excessive information is dangerous, and their research has shown that too much information - which was not easy to define - often had a negative effect on the final judgment.

In 1960, Siegfried Streufert after a series of works found that the relationship between information load and information handling typically resembled an "inverted U": Most information was initially useful, then not so useful, and then really harmful. (Gleick, 2011: 565)

In 1970Lewis Mumford, a humanities expert, and technology philosopher warned that the abundance of books needed "self-restraint, otherwise overproduction would cause a state of mental debauchery and exhaustion that can hardly be distinguished from mass ignorance." Of course, the self-restraints were never implemented, the books multiplied. (Gleick, 2011: 563)

The word "e-mail" first appeared in 1982 in Computer World magazine with little impact. In 1984, a decade before most people heard the word, the Swedish computer scientist Jacob Palme warned: The e-mail system can cause information overload problems because it is very easy to send a message to a large number of people.

People receive so many messages that they do not have time to read them and finding a really important message is a difficult process.

Until the 1980s, scientists were convinced that humans could only "absorb" or "process" a limited amount of information, and found that information saturation not only caused confusion and embarrassment but also misjudgment and lack of honesty. (Gleick, 2011: 564,566)


1998 study was conducted at the University of Illinois on a group of graduate students who all admitted to suffering from information overload caused by "e-mail, conferences and bulk inboxes". Charles Henry Bennett notes:

"The fact that one should think of information as a burden is embarrassing. We pay money to get our newspapers, not to get them "(Gleick, 2011: 570)


Fatigue from the information recognized by the OED in 2009 as one of the times syndromes:

"Apathy, indifference or mental exhaustion that comes from exposure to too much information, especially (in later use) stress due to the effort of assimilation of excessive quantities of information from the media, the internet or work “.


Norbert Wiener, the "father" of Cybernetics, argued that the nervous systems of humans and animals have almost the same capabilities as those of a computer system. Memory is needed to perform a task. Its intermediate results, however, have no value once this process is completed. This memory must record quickly, read quickly and empty quickly. But the human brain differs from the machine in the function of memory. The machine can perform many successive processes without any reference to each other (such as multiplication) and then empty and clean from such a process. The human brain never deletes the previous recordings it receives during its natural evolution (Danezis-Theodosiou, 2012: 86-87).

According to sociologist Edgar Morin, while the quality and volume of knowledge is growing dramatically, a feature of our society is an incredible advancement of ignorance and obscurantism. A man collects and stores in his mind only information, as a lifeless book or a computer does, but information alone does not constitute what is called knowledge. (M.Danezis-S.Theodosiou, 2012: 18)


We live in the "information age", the age when information is born and transmitted at a rapid pace. The media and more the internet as its main exponent, take care of its reproduction in all lengths and breadths of the earth. Without realizing it, most of the information on the planet went into our pockets, into our "ubiquitous" cell phones, and that only happened in a few years.

"The colossal increase in data and information of the digital age cannot be accurately calculated, but it is in any case impressive. It is estimated that we produce five exabytes (1 billion gigabytes) of recorded information per year, more than 50,000 times the number of words stored in the Library of Congress material, or more than the total number of words ever spoken by humans. » (Giannakopoulos-Bountouri, 2015: 52)


That's all for today. We will continue with the second part in a few days. I am waiting for your comments in case you liked the topic of the article.

Thank you for your time. See you soon.



Gleick J. (2011). "The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood."

Danezis M.- Theodosiou S. (2012). "This is how I see the world."

Giannakopoulos G.-Bountouri V. (2015). "Introduction to Archiving."

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