The Internet increases the information overload

Information overload - information overkill - media literacy

I see the gender of today with sorrow.
His future is gloomy and empty.
Crushed by knowledge, the prey of doubt,
it grows up and ages idly.
Mikhail Lermontov

The complaint of too much information was also raised in the days of the Alexandria Library, and for a long time there has been more in the world to learn, to know, to read and to understand than any human being could ever achieve in his comparatively short life can. Electronic databases that can be searched in full text today offer access to vast amounts of knowledge and, increasingly, to treasures of knowledge that have long been believed to be lost. Compared to databases, however, the Internet is a very messy, unordered sea of ​​information that requires order. The task arises that people have to learn to deal with it, although today's generation is probably just beginning. The new forms of communication also seem to be problematic, because it has become easy to establish or maintain contact with friends, acquaintances or total strangers via email, social networks such as Twitter or Facebook, SMS or Usenet, whereby the filtering of Communication has become an increasingly demanding task, so as not to communicate to death in a social noncommitment and arbitrariness.

In the opinion of the cultural scientist Jan Assmann, the Internet is increasing this Circulation of knowledge and memory contents enormous, and also facilitates access to a wide range of traditional collections, for example through digital access to libraries and archives in which knowledge is canonized, but the Internet cannot Relevance functions take over, i.e. decide what will be seen as a significant part of the past in the future and will live on in cultural memory. A person who searches the Internet, however, needs them Relevance structures, because if he does not have this in his head, at least in a rudimentary way, he will not find what he needs on the Internet. To the extent that the Internet increases the circulation of information, it solves that Perspectives on the meaning of the canon of essential knowledge on. After all, it is culture through its rules and values ​​that connects people with one another and, through the memory of a shared past, forms a bridge from yesterday to today.

It is estimated that more than a billion people worldwide use it Facebookto exchange private and professional information, to stay in contact with each other and to get to know new friends, partners or professional opportunities. As in real life, Facebook users are faced with a series of decisions: Who do you talk to? Who can one suffer? Who do you trust? Who do you want to get to know better? These diverse social decisions made on Facebook are inevitably based on how the users and their social partners behave and judge each other online. That is, what information they leave behind in Facebook profiles and what conclusions they come to based on this information.

Information overkill - social components and informal contacts more important than high-tech

The advantages of the information age and the associated volume of data available worldwide could turn out to be a blow to the rear, not only for individuals but also for companies. According to a study by Gartner [], 90 percent of all companies believe that they are under one Abundance of information suffer and that this tide makes them less competitive. Gartner assumes that companies will spend 30 billion dollars on information management systems in the next year in order to master the mass of data from the Internet, intranet, etc. Instead of upgrading companies technically, Gartner recommends informal channels such as personal networks (friends, colleagues), e-mail traffic or social interactions promote.  

Personal contacts with friends or colleagues are much more important for decision-making within a company than information from the network or the company intranet. The 300 or so companies surveyed stated, however, that it was precisely these informal contacts that were least encouraged. "Since computer technologies cannot understand human information needs, they can only be used to a limited extent as information filter aids," said Gartner analyst Alexander Linden. In general, it is easier for companies to implement new technologies than to change the corporate information culture.

According to Gartner, a key key to preventing information overkill lies in the Maintaining social interactions. These could be used with simple means such as unofficial meetings, cafeterias or lounges in addition to technical features such as specially prepared search engines, expert networks or electronic bulletin boards. It turns out that the public sector is the least likely to be involved in information management systems, while consultancies have largely used such programs. Around 75 percent of consultants have implemented their own communication management programs, while only five percent of government organizations use such systems.

Experts see that Role of social networks like Facebook or Twitter in human relationships critical, because mostly the ego is the focus and not so much the relationship with others. On Facebook, however, you are not yourself, you are reduced to a created profile that is more or less distorted, so that Facebook is only one for many Illusory world is because you upload postings or pictures there, even if they have nothing to do with you. This virtual staging becomes problematic because you can constantly compare your own profile with that of friends, even though you are only sitting alone in front of the screen. Ultimately, the users of social networks are always thrown back on themselves and ask themselves why they are not as successful, popular or happy as the others, comparing themselves with people who might actually be indifferent to them. Especially Teenagers sit in front of their device and wait for feedback on their own life, because they try to get what one can only get in a real and high-risk world through virtual contacts. Some then lose themselves in this endeavor to always want to leave a good and lasting impression and at the end of the day often do not even know who they really are, because they lack feedback from real people. Central characteristics of real friendship are largely absent in social networks, because they limit and structure communication. Negative things rarely or never appear in these communications, because nobody shares their failures with their entire circle of friends.

Vanman et al. (2018) discovered that a Social media withdrawal program how Facebook has a decisive influence on the body's hormonal balance, especially the Cortisol levels Be influenced by how you interact with social media. However, complete withdrawal from digital networks can also have a negative impact on wellbeing. In one experiment, half of the test subjects had to be abstinent for a certain period of time, the other half continued as before. A reduction in cortisol levels was found in the saliva of the test subjects as soon as they had stopped their Facebook activities, but they did not feel less stressed during the subsequent survey, i.e. That is, although the Facebook avoiders showed a definite physiological improvement in their stress hormones, their psychological examination showed that it was more likely to deteriorate, stating that they were more uncomfortable than they were before the Facebook abstinence and were waiting to be able to resume their activities .

Sources & literature

Vanman, Eric, Baker, Rosemary, Tobin, Stephanie (2018). The burden of online friends: the effects of giving up Facebook on stress and well-being. The Journal of Social Psychology, doi: 10.1080 / 00224545.2018.1453467. (13-12-05)


See also the W4 - World Wide Advertising Desert

Mood influences decisions

Many decisions, such as buying a home or looking for a job, are sequential, i.e. you receive various offers one after the other, which you can either accept or decline. With such decisions, the quality of the choice depends on how many offers are examined before the decision is made, whereby both a too short and a too long search are not optimal, because with a short search there is a high probability that a better one will be found later An offer comes, while a very long search increases the risk that you have already seen the best offer and have already rejected it.

In a study von Helversen et al. (2012) how older and younger adults make sequential decisions in different moods. They were given decision-making tasks on the computer, where they were asked to find the cheapest offer among sixty different products from flat screens to refrigerators. With each offer, they could decide whether they wanted to buy the product for this price or whether they wanted to keep searching, whether they could find a cheaper offer. In total, the test subjects could look at up to forty price offers per product, with older adults accepting an offer earlier and paying more for the products than younger ones. The tendency to search less long was not related to their cognitive abilities but to the mood of the test subjects, i.e. the more positive their mood, the earlier they decided to accept an offer, i.e. to accept an offer instead of looking further. A second study with younger adults confirmed that they were also more willing to accept offers earlier if they were in a positive mood. Obviously, not only are cognitive skills important in making good decisions, but the current mood also has an important influence on decision-making behavior. A positive mood lets offers appear in a rosier light and thus leads to a more cursory search for information, which, however, can result in poorer decisions, for example if an intensive search for information is necessary for an election.


von Helversen, B., & Rui, Mata (2012). Losing a dime with a satisfied mind: Positive affect predicts less search in sequential decision making. Psychology and Aging, advance online publication, doi: 10.1037 / a0027845 (University of Basel, April 12, 2012).
Mata, R., Pachur, T., von Helversen, B., Hertwig, R., Rieskamp, ​​J., & Schooler, L J. (2012). Ecological rationality: A framework for understanding and aiding the aging decision maker. Frontiers in Decision Neuroscience, 6-19.

Media literacy

According to some experts, the brain is overwhelmed in the digital age because it is not yet adjusted to the flood of information. Nevertheless, it is assumed that people will adjust to this over time, because the Internet offers a lot of transparency with regard to personal autonomy, i.e. improves the basis for decision-making, but people first have to learn that the information brokers active on the Internet sometimes pursue their own interests and not necessarily inform neutrally. In addition, the availability of knowledge alone does not make the individual wiser, because the most important thing in view of the wealth of information is filtering those that are relevant to the solution of a problem. Educators, scientists, politicians and parents have recently been calling for increased media literacy for the education of children and young people in view of the flood of information from the new media. Baacke (1973, 1996) used the concept of Media literacy significantly influenced by referring to the concept of communicative competence developed by Habermas, which in turn is based on the concept of language competence developed by Chomsky also to use all kinds of media for the communication and action repertoire of people "(Baacke, 1996, p. 119). Media literacy raises the Change of communication structures through technical industrial precautions and expansions and thus expands everyday communicative competence. In the media age, media competence must therefore be viewed as an essential component of communicative competence, which, however, in contrast to everyday communication competence, has to be learned, practiced and further developed more intensively.

According to Baacke (1996), four dimensions of media competence can be shown, which make it clear how the term can be specifically reflected in people's actions, knowledge and thinking:

  • Media criticism means the ability to deal analytically, reflexively and ethically with media. Problematic social (media) processes should be able to be adequately recorded, with the consequence that the analytical knowledge can be applied to oneself and one's actions (socially responsible).
  • Media studies refers to the knowledge about today's media systems and & endash; structures, a distinction must be made between the informative and the instrumental-qualification dimension: The informative dimension comprises classic knowledge stocks. This includes, for example, knowledge of the structures of the dual broadcasting system, the work of journalists, program formats and genres as well as knowledge of the effective use of the computer as a working aid. The instrumental-qualification dimension, on the other hand, means the ability to operate devices, e.g. familiarizing oneself with the use of computer software or the operation of a video recorder.
  • Also the dimension of the Media usage can be broken down into two aspects. Thus, receptive use refers to the pure application of instrumental-qualifying knowledge. This means that the potential recipient who has the necessary knowledge to be able to use media actually uses this and becomes a real user of one-sided media communication. The interactive use goes beyond the one-sided use of the media to the extent that the user is not only a recipient, but also a provider of media messages in the context of the communication situation. This primarily includes the ability to answer, as is necessary, for example, in tele-banking, tele-shopping or in tele-discourse.
  • Media design is to be understood on the one hand as an innovative design of the media system, in the sense of changes and further developments of existing offers. With regard to media use by young people, this can mean, for example, the development of software programs. On the other hand, media design includes creative design as an aesthetic variant, going beyond the limits of the communication routine. The alienation of known advertising logos for the purpose of ironic or provocation can be cited as an example of this dimension.

Moser (1999, p. 217) refers to the latest media and further specifies media competence:

  • Media literacy is a must technically be seen as a necessity to handle media correctly, to master their basic functions as well as the design options associated with them. This corresponds to Moser Baacke's demand for media studies in the sense of instrumental and qualification skills.
  • Moser also complies with Baacke's media competence concept when he has media competence reflexive understands "as a critical reassurance of the function of the media in society and as media criticism".
  • With the demand, Moser emphasizes a new aspect of media literacy more cultural Competencies. Familiarity with the respective codes of the media as well as with their aesthetic and social forms of expression is, in his opinion, an essential characteristic in the competent use of the media. However, the empirical implementation or operationalization of the terms remains open. The demand for multi-cultural competence is initially very abstract when it is defined as "moving in different spheres of a globalized space".
  • After all, Moser sees it as the fourth dimension of media literacy social Competencies. Here - going beyond Baacke - he lists a new and essential aspect in dealing with the media, which is also gaining in importance through the introduction of new media. The ability to respond sensibly to the communication offers and expectations associated with the media is essential if one wants to find one's way in new media worlds.Internet and intranet, new forms of work such as teleworking and virtual networks call for specific manners and require new organizational forms of interpersonal communication.

Baacke, D. (1973). Communication and competence. Foundation of a didactic of communication and its media. Munich.
Baacke, D. (1996). Media literacy - terminology and social change. In A. von Rein (ed.), Media competence as a key term. Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt.
Moser, H. (1999). Introduction to media education. Growing up in the media age. Opladen: Leske + Budrich.

Under the use of
Hugger, Kai-Uwe, Vollbrecht, Ralf & Wegener, Claudia (2000). Module: "Youth and Media". Virtual lecture: media education.
erzwiae / MP / Module_Youth_and_Media / (01-11-06)

The age of secondary orality

With the beginning of the electronic age (telephone, radio, television) a "Age of Secondary Orality", whereby the computer ultimately further intensifies or maximizes the availability and spatial representability of the word, because it not only creates the perfect, electronic, limitless space, but also enables spatial movement in this space, independent of time, and is therefore in able to optimize analytical sequences by actually running them simultaneously, such as with Hypertext or other interactive applications.

This new secondary orality bears a surprising resemblance to the primary orality on. In the early oral cultures there was no writing, thinking and expression or language were sound-determined. Words were events that only existed for a moment and in a certain context. Words disappear over time and cannot be captured or looked up. You can only recall them from memory. Without thoughts that can be memorized, neither thinking nor speech is possible. In oral cultures have Mnemonics which are sometimes difficult to understand for us literalized because our thinking is based on the visual and spatial fixation of the word. Primary orality also promoted spontaneity because it does not have the analytical reflectivity that writing brings with it. Overall, personality structures that were oriented towards the community and directed outwards were favored, since the word binds people to a group and at least one dialogue must take place in order to start the thought process or the speech act.

Secondary orality promotes the spontaneitybecause through analytical reflection it is recognized that spontaneity is a good thing. A characteristic of this secondary orality is that an individual acts more consciously, because it orients itself outwards, because it knows that it needs a community in order not to become lonely. It develops a sense of infinitely large groups, which Marshall McLuhan summed up with the term "global village". If one remembers the psychodynamics of orality, then one knows that thought and language were guided by formal and social constraints. In the electronic age, content and speakers adapt to the psychology of the medium, short statements dominate on television, entertainment is under constant time pressure, which largely avoids aggressive impulses.

Human communication, verbal or otherwise, differs from media communication in that it requires predictable feedback in order to take place at all. With regard to the "new media", whose integration in the general population is not yet fully completed, Walter Ong (1982) recognized the development of a "natural, informal" style that corresponds to the view of typographically influenced people that oral exchange is usually informal. If one examines the contents and structures of the Internet, one immediately notices their diversity. There is practically nothing that you cannot find there. The interpersonal exchange is only one click away from the scientific research result. Everyone can freely formulate and place their thoughts. You communicate with the whole world, but still remain alone in front of the screen. The dynamic of orality and literacy becomes an integral part of modern consciousness development. It drives them to greater inwardness and at the same time to greater openness.

Based on: Jörg, Brigitte (2000). Orality and literacy. WWW: (02-07-04)

Ong, Walter (1987). Orality and literacy - the technology of the word. Opladen: Westdeuscher Verlag.

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