My latest Guardian column, “Information overload? Time to relax then,” describes a technique for overcoming “information overload” by letting go of the idea that if you overlook something in your inbox, RSS reader, or other feed that it’ll disappear forever. The faster your feeds get, the more the good stuff gets repeated — trust the redundancy and embrace non-deterministic information consumption!
This was a real struggle at first. There is a world of difference between reading every word uttered in a community and reading just a few choice ones. But soon the anxiety gave way to contentment and even delight: it turned out that “overload” has a wonderful corollary: redundancy.
Anything really worth seeing wouldn’t just appear once and vanish. The really interesting stuff would find its way into other discussions, and early conferencing systems made it easy enough to back my way through the forums I was ignoring or skimming to find the important thing I’d missed.
This pattern went on to repeat itself again and again. Once, I could read all the Usenet discussion groups my ISP carried, then only a selection, and then only one or two plus a longer list of groups I’d dip into now and again when time allowed.