12 April, 2021

The New Sin: Infogluttony

Excessive information has resulted in knowledge becoming a private property, and the preserve of a few.

The New Sin: Infogluttony

Information, as they keep telling us on television screens and in newspapers and journals like this one, is the key. This key apparently unlocks anything from a bright individual future to a just and democratic society, so the more we have of it, the better off we are. And if this is true, then it is just as well, because certainly we have more access to more information than ever before.

The idea that "more is always better" is not just a staple of the utilitarian philosophy that underlies mainstream economic analysis. It has become a basic principle governing modern life, determining the predisposition of consumers as much as an axiom of interpersonal behaviour. Insightful analysts have been pointing out for some time, however, that the surfeit of any good can ultimately cause not just embarrassment but even discomfort, and that excessive consumption in general is not just unsustainable but even socially harmful.

In the case of information, unlike so much other consumption, at first "more" appears to be unambiguously...

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