Not new

At Lift 07 there was a panel on technological overload. The video of the panel is available here.

Update: Since Google Video is no more, the video can be viewed on Vimeo

Panel Discussion:Dealing with technological overload (Lift07 EN) from Lift Conference on Vimeo.

Fellow blogger Mlle. A. pointed out that this kind of discussion isn’t new.

A couple of days ago she sent in an article by Ann Blair on “Reading Strategies for Coping with Information Overload ca. 1550-1700” published in 2003 in the Journal of the History of Ideas.

As more and more books were published, academics worried about keeping up: they discussed the effects of reading manuals and encyclopedias or reading “only in parts”. And discussed strategies to classify information, added indexes and used cut and paste to arrange the information they received.

Blogging isn’t new either:

“Reading is useless, vain and silly when no writing is involved, unless you are reading (devotionally) Thomas a Kempis or some such. Although I would not want even that kind of reading to be devoid of all note taking.”

Interesting stuff.

By nchenga

Nchenga-nchenga is my nickname. is my online playground, scrap book, and on-going collection of bookmarks and interesting quotes. Chiperoni is a Malawian term for cold, grey, rainy weather. I am a bridge blogger somewhere between Basel and Blantyre. The opinions and comments expressed here are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway. So far, this blog is free of advertising or paid articles or similar.


  1. Yet another link for a. (I just coined a new abbreviation… YALA):

    Related to the ongoing discussion on social networking and productivity, NYT has article on coffeehouses in the late 1600s.

    “In England in the late 1600s, very similar concerns were expressed about another new media-sharing environment, the allure of which seemed to be undermining young people’s ability to concentrate on their studies or their work: the coffeehouse. It was the social-networking site of its day.”


    “A study published in 2012 by McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm, found that the use of social networking within companies increased the productivity of “knowledge workers” by 20 to 25 percent.”


    “But the lesson of the coffeehouse is that modern fears about the dangers of social networking are overdone. This kind of media, in fact, has a long history: Martin Luther’s use of pamphlets in the Reformation casts new light on the role of social media in the Arab Spring, for example, and there are parallels between the gossipy poems that circulated in pre-Revolutionary France and the uses of microblogging in modern China.”

  2. Laurent:
    I agree. This is a big issue.

    I liked the panel at Lift 07. Lots of food for thought.

    Mlle A.:
    looking forward to reading your paper… 🙂

  3. The subject is not new, but imho its importance is getting bigger with each day passing. There is a big issue for our society (and our economy), we are reaching a point were it will soon be legitimate to ask whether technology really makes us more productive.

  4. Another proof of information overload – took me since Feb. to link you up to that article….

    (the whole issue -vol.64, no.1, 2003- is dedicated to aspects of early modern information overload; I am quite tempted to write a paper on the parallels to modern information overload and reading strategies…maybe a follow-up project for Lift08? I wouldn’t assume that those who built feedreaders actually were aware of all those parallels.)

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