Information Overload


It started back when I was teaching myself how to design apps and websites. I wanted to consume as much good content as possible. I set up Twitter and followed all the most influential designers in the industry. I did the same for Dribbble and other social networks where designers use to hang out. I also set up RSS reader and added lots of design websites and curator mailing lists. It felt like the right thing to do.

It worked for a while. I read every tweet; I saw every Dribbble shot. I've read everything that has come out. Though mainly because back then there weren’t that many good websites as it is today.

Then the hype following social media, growth hacking, and digital products caught up. Websites started rewriting stuff from each other; courses began popping up everywhere. There is so much content out there now it would take you a couple of lifetimes to consume it all.

It came with a small side effect. The amount of available information grew exponentially. But our will to consume as much content as possible stayed the same. Instead of reading less content but understanding it well, we focus on the amount of stuff we consume. Accepting it as is, without giving it much thought.

Our use of social networks is the same. We tend to follow hundreds of people online. What they are up to, what they have to say, but sparingly we found something valuable in our feeds.

Consuming this much content isn’t free, it depletes your cognitive resources. Making your mind overloaded with lots of unnecessary information with no room or time for deep thoughts.

People say that you should curate what to share, maybe we should also curate what we consume to get the most out of it. Because if Dunbar’s number is correct, …

Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships —relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person.

… and we would be generous and said we could somehow follow the same amount of people online. How much would you need to curate to fit in?

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