News item describes a boundary-breaking collaboration, funded at $1M for 4 years by the National Science Foundation, between Boston University researchers from diverse departments. The collaboration will look at advanced technology to get a handle on media overload.
The growth of websites like Ancestry.com has helped bring more people into the fold of genealogical research by making resources more accessible.
These online tools are helpful to those searching for family connections, but the avalanche of possible matches can be overwhelming.
Since the 1970s, the term “information overload” has captured society’s anxiety about the growth in the production of information having potentially bad consequences for people as they struggle to cope with seemingly constant streams of messages and images. The advent of the internet, it was thought, would only exacerbate this, with the onset of ubiquitous connectivity turning information overload into something even more debilitating.
Though research is a slow moving and rigid process, one study shows that the rate of scientific study has exploded in the last 50 years. According to the paper, humanity’s scientific output now doubles every nine years. Considering the rigors of science — that’s pretty fast. And it’s just the average rate. In specific areas like healthcare, the doubling rate is even faster — as much as every 3 years currently with an expected increase to every 73 days by the early 2020s.
For overwhelmed researchers navigating the growing stack of science literature — the value isn’t in having so much new information, but finding relevant insights when they need them.
Research into information overload has been extensive and cross–disciplinary, producing a multitude of suggested causes and posed solutions. I argue that many of the conclusions arrived at by existing research, while laudable in their inventiveness and/or practicality, miss the mark by viewing information overload as a problem that can be understood (or even solved) by purely rational means. (more…)
Information demand is a problem for all those involved in research but seems especially threatening to interdisciplinary research. Teamwork supplies the remedy, but most research in the social sciences and humanities is done by scholars working alone. That fact limits the scope for interdisciplinary work. In this article, we examine several ways in which actual and potential overload affects research choices for the solo researcher, paying special attention to the creation of ad hoc interdisciplinary specialties. As a matter of policy, should solo interdisciplinary work be encouraged? A strong social preference for interdisciplinary might discourage solo practice as just another example of the huge disparity between individual and collective capacities.