17.591 infoglut

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Sat Jan 31 2004 - 03:27:45 EST

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 591.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

         Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2004 07:58:14 +0000
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: infoglut

The following from Herbert A. Simon, "Rationality as Process and as Product
of Thought", American Economic Review 68.2 (1978): 1-16, is likely to
strike a chord with most of us these days:

>In a world where information is relatively scarce, and where problems for
>decision are few and simple. information is almost always a positive good.
>In a world where attention is a major scarce resource, information may be
>an expensive luxury, for it may turn our attention from what is important
>to what is unimportant. We cannot afford to attend to information simply
>because it is there. I am not aware that there has been any systematic
>development of a theory of information and communication that treats
>attention rather than information as the scarce resource. (p. 13)

This would seem to support Geoffrey Nunberg's idea that "information" (i.e.
the idea or, as he says, the impression of it) is essentially a product of
the age
we've left behind.



Dr Willard McCarty | Senior Lecturer | Centre for Computing in the
Humanities | King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS || +44 (0)20
7848-2784 fax: -2980 || willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk

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