Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Too much information is as bad as too little

There's a great point in this comment:

Not surprisingly, people develop strong filters for what information they're going to take in, let alone process. When you say oh it does no harm to provide people with more information, you're totally missing this. It certainly may do them harm, because, as a rule, all of our information bandwidth is presently occupied -- very few of us are standing around, in line at fast-food joints or not, wondering how we can find something to read or think about because our brain is just bored, bored, bored.

I ran into a situation just this weekend. My power went out Sunday morning. I have various outdoor cookery thingies out in the garage but that's sort of a pain. How about firing up my propane-powered stove? What could be the issue?  But the manual has this scary warning about NOT operating the stovetop.

I know the electrical spark thingies won't work but I'm OK with that. And the on/off lighting indicators won't work. OK as well.

And as far as I can determine those were the only reasons the stern warning was in the manual. Which decreases respect and observance for any other warnings that have a serious basis. Of course, many of the other warnings involve admonitions about warming up your gasoline on the stovetop and the like. Not that these aren't things to guard against but the conflating of the basic common sense with the the non-obvious but important doesn't do anyone a favor.

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