"...[I]t is a far more difficult task to
identify the key or the most essential works
for the problem at hand [then] to ... find
great numbers of publications dealing with
a research topic ..." (Hopkins, 1995: 306).
Information overload is not unique to Internet users. It is a condition that
has plagued the Information Society for more than a generation (e.g. Klapp,
1986) and has led, at least according to some authorities, to feelings of
frustration, disconnectiveness, boredom and anxiety (e.g. Wurman, 1989).
Over the years, to assist users in managing the ever-increasing volume of
information, librarians, and others, have developed or applied a variety of
selection and organizational tools and techniques. In a recent review article, Hopkins provides a concise summary
of the issue and succinct profiles of a number of the methods that librarians and other information specialists have used in countering this
problem (Hopkins, 1995: 305-333). Among the conventional tools that
librarians have created to assist users manage information overload have been guides, handbooks, review
articles, literature reviews, abridgments and rankings, as well as indexes,
digests and abstracts, among other similar services.
While he does not specifically address the phenomenon of information overload in cyberspace, his review of the
potential benefit of hypermedia for reducing the condition, reaffirms the
approach taken by CyberStacks(sm):
"The route to information ecstasy will involve
the use of interactive media or hypermedia.
Librarians, and other information professionals,
utilizing these technologies, will be able to
make intellectual links that exist within
and between documents readily apparant and
easily accessible to users [emphasis added]
(Hopkins, 1995: 325)
We believe that the use of a standard organizational scheme, which
makes use of the hypertext functionality of the World Wide Web itself and
that of the GUI browsers in which it is searched, and which also provides users with a
framework which faciliates the predictable location of resources within an
overall system, can substantially lessen the cognitive load and psychological burden
often associated with information overload and anxiety.
We believe that our intentional selection of sources of a Reference nature that serve to
index, abstract, guide or review significant and relevant Internet
resources, will mitigate some of the frustrating and distressing experiences of
Internet users who seek specific data and information.
Richard L. Hopkins, "Countering information overload: the role of the
librarian," Reference Librarian 49/50: 305-333 (1995).
Orrin E. Klapp, Overload and boredom: essays on the quality
of life in the Information Society. (Wesport, Conn.: Greenwood Press,
Richard Saul Wurman, Information anxiety. (New York: Doubleday, 1989)