Information obesity

Information obesity
A general image of "information obesity", namely a mind that is over-weight with redundant, unnecessary, trivial, and most-importantly "incorrect" knowledge; some of which must be "unlearned" to become fit again.
In education, information obesity refers to a mind, generally in the information era or internet age, that is fat with incorrect or useless information or information akin to “weeds” (Hiebert, 1966) in the garden of knowledge (see: garden of thermodynamics) or around the tree of knowledge, therein tending to stifle the enlightened growth of true, important, or useful knowledge; a gameshow contestant that can answer lots of trivial questions, but who is enable to solve big questions, might be one example of one with an information obese mind, generally speaking.

In c.1440, the printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg, therein resulting to increase the amount of readily mass-produced available information; previously available only by hand-written methods.
In 1971, the term “information overload” was coined by Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock. [1]

In 1972, email was invented by Ray Tomlinson.

In 1998, Google launched, thereafter enabling anyone to gain access to whatever “information”, fact, fictional, or whatever, someone decided to put online.

In 2001, Wikipedia launched, and by 2005 many people were getting their knowledge from this source, over that of Britannica; and, of note, by 2006 many books began to be published based on Wikipedia citations, therein letting questionable knowledge later seep into Google Books; accordingly seasoned researchers tend to do pre-2005 time period searches of information in Google Books, so to be sure the findings are Wikipedia free.

In 2007, Google Books launched, and people, shortly thereafter, were able to get full access to all of the world’s library pre-copyright dated books, and partial access to in-copyright books.

In 2010, Facebook received more visitors than Google, and indicator, according to Tara Brabazon, author of Digital Dieting (2012), that people were more willing to “share” information rather than “search” for information. [2]

Information | Overloading
In 2006, Andy Green, in his book section “Hyper-Availability and Information Obesity” (Ѻ), discussed information obesity in respect to “email” and ways, e.g. spam filters, delete buttons, files, etc., we have learned to curb or control it:

“While there has been an explosion in the wealth of opportunities for individuals to reach out and communicate, there is the limitation of the 'abundance communications paradox': the growth in the ability to communicate has been matched by a rise in the immunity to communications. Remember the first e-mail you got? You probably sent a long and eloquent reply. Now with the explosive growth in e-mail communications, you develop response strategies to limit your overload to enable you to cope and respond to what you perceive as the crucial messages. You use spam filters, delete e-mails without reading or with no reply. When you do reply it is often short - often several days/weeks later, an ironic time lag in an age of instant communications.”

In 2009, Andrew Whitworth, in his Information Obesity, attempted to look at the problem of having, supposedly, too much information available.

In 2012, Scott Brown, in his “Coping with Information Obesity” (Ѻ), citing Hmolpedia’s last person to know everything article, with reference to the presumed fact that going into the 19th century or early 20th century the total knowledge of the world began to be too much for one person to amass in one mind, attempted to discuss ways of preventing and coping with information obesity, which he likens to a “physical obesity” of the mind, such as absorbing what he calls “slow information”.

In 2018, Libb Thims suggested (Ѻ) that Italian economist Piero Sraffa (1898-1983), who had amassed an 8,000 book personal library on topics in economics and politics, but whose resulting work or influence, in putting the contents of these books into coherent workable order, resulted to being only cited by one person in Hmolpedia, namely Borisas Cimbleris and, supposedly, having some influence (Ѻ) on Ludwig Wittgenstein, himself being an “overrated genius”, is an example of someone suffering from information obesity.

In short, in a world where all the world’s library books are at one’s immediate fingertips, anytime of the day, it is of the interest of the keen and perspicacious mind NOT to waste “time”, which is the limiting factor, i.e. people only have so many days of reaction existence movement on this earth, on useless information.

Great geniuses tend to be acutely aware of this rule of thumb, the best example of which being the famous anecdote of Willard Gibbs and “uncut books”. Specifically, sometime between 1899 and 1902, in the years when Edwin Wilson studied under Gibbs at Yale, the following incident occurred, as recounted by Wilson in 1930: [31]

“Once I desired to consult some books which were not in the library but which I had seen on the shelves in his office during a lecture. I ventured to ask whether I might borrow them. He was entirely willing. As I picked the books off the shelves I noticed that the pages had not been cut and enquired whether I might cut them, to which he replied : Certainly, if you think it worthwhile. Probably I looked abashed, for he added: The author kindly sends me all he writes; there is a great deal of it; I sometimes feel that a person who writes so much must spread his message rather thin.”

If one desires to be “informationally fit”, according to Gibbs, who presently is ranked #5 of the top 1000 geniuses, don’t waste your time one authors who spread their messages rather thin.

The following are related quotes:

“One should strive not after fullness of knowledge, but fullness of understanding.”
— Democritus (c.380BC), Fragment #; cited by Friedrich Lange (1865) in History of Materialism, Volume One (pg. 17)

“Often in our more carefully cultivate gardens of thought some rank weed grows with such vigor as to stunt the growth of the neighboring useful vegetables. So the scientific literature of the nineteenth century was overgrown with a discussion of ether, its stresses and strains, its density, its movement with the earth or through the earth. A mechanism that we designed to be servant had become master; until now that we are suddenly freed from this obsession we feel as if awakened from a hideous nightmare.”
Gilbert Lewis (1925), Anatomy of Science

“The term ‘information obesity’ appears to have been around for ten years or less. That food metaphor seems worth considering. When a formerly scarce resource becomes abundant. people instinctively consume it wherever and whenever they can, which naturally leads to overconsumption. Empty calories in the echo chambers of blogs and re-tweet instantly gratify the need to tell somebody whenever anything occurs to you. Much as with overconsumption of unprecedentedly available sugar and fat, today there is widespread overconsumption of information, especially when ‘informational empty calories’ don't really satisfy (Grossman and Sabin 2010).”
— Malcolm McCullough (2015), “Distraction Reconsidered” [1]

See also

1. McCullough, Malcolm. (2015). “Distraction Reconsidered”, in: Ubiquitous Computing, Complexity, and Culture (pg. 207). Publisher.
2. Brabazon, Tara. (2012). Digital Dieting: From Information Obesity to Intellectual Fitness. Publisher.
3. Whitworth, Andrew. (2009). Information Obesity (Ѻ)(Ѻ). Publisher.

Further reading
● Johnson, Clay. (2012). “Information Obesity: Take Responsibility, Fatty”, Big Think, Aug 23.
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