The Age of Superfluous Information

“There is no more dangerous mistake than the mistake of supposing that we cannot have too much of a good thing.” Thus spake George Bernard Shaw. Excess is as damaging as shortage in most things that are considered good. More is better but only up to a point of satiation. Beyond the satiation point, the marginal utility of a good is negative, as an economist may put it. Particular instances of that generalization are not hard to find.

Food, for instance, is a good that in excessive quantities is a bad as the success of the dieting industry so starkly demonstrates. Yet tens of millions poor people around the world dying of malnutrition and starvation every year is the horrible demonstration of the problem at the other extreme.

The same holds for information. Continue reading