Distracted Living, Tech

Harvard Business Review: The long history of information overload


There’s a fascinating, if brief, article by Ann Blair at the Harvard Business Review website:  “Information Overload’s 2300-Year-Old History.”

As Blair notes:

In 1255 the Dominican Vincent of Beauvais articulated eloquently the key ingredients of the feeling of overload which are still with us today: “the multitude of books, the shortness of time and the slipperiness of memory.” Vincent’s solution was to write a massive book (of some 4.5 million words) in which he gathered the “flowers” or best bits of all the books he was able to read, to spare others the costs (in time, effort and access to books) of doing so themselves.

Blair is Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at Harvard and the author of “Too Much To Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age.”