Information Overhead Hypothesis

Introduction into Context-aware Computing Vision

When looking on to the past we can see that amount of information available for average person was growing each century but the most dramatic growth was established in the XXI and XX century. Also the less fast growth in previous centuries was easy to handle by average human mind the latest breakthrough was too fast for human brain to adapt. Growth of basic required education as well as growth of information flow around us (books, newspapers, Internet) combined together brought us to a situation when an average person doesn’t process all the information but rather uses the templates to process it automatically. The templates are provided as part of education as well as via aggressive advertising and popular shows on TV, radio, books, Internet.

Another interesting trend is that amount of people dealing with information as their primary job was also dramatically increased in XIX and XX centuries (and is growing even more today). A new job category, knowledge or information worker, appeared on the jobs market.

The third trend appeared as part of information overhead problem is that amount of tasks people process daily also dramatically increased from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of tasks.

Task, or activity, as stated in Activity Theory, is described as dynamic, collaborative, multifaceted, it exists at different levels of granularity, exists across places [1]

It’s the way people solve different problems. The problem of a growing number of tasks leads to a growing complexity in a life of an average person while solving personal and work problems.

The information overhead that humanity is facing now thus consists of inability to efficiently process large information blocks solved by applying templates (which turns off thinking), growing amount of people whose primary job is dealing with information (hence information workers), and growing amount of activities.

[1] “In Supporting Activity in Desktop and Ubiquitous Computing” by Stephen Voida, Elizabeth D. Mynatt, and Blair McIntyre (printed in “Beyond the Desktop Metaphor”, MIT 2008).