Todd J. Wiebe writes:

Now he would prowl the stacks of the library at night, pulling books out of a thousand shelves and reading in them like a madman. The thought of these vast stacks of books would drive him mad: the more he read, the less he seemed to know—the greater the number of the books he read, the greater the immense uncountable number of those which he could never read would seem to be.”

So goes the experience of Eugene Gant, a fictional character based on the author, Thomas Wolfe, himself deep in the stacks of the library at Harvard University. With nary a computer, smart phone, tablet, or pair of those Google cyborg glasses, just seemingly endless stacks of print books, this young man is experiencing some form of information overload, information overstimulation, or infogluttony. He is obviously curious and eager to learn, but completely swirling around in an eddy of information and recorded human knowledge—again, print only. Fast forward to 2015. Today, this sort of information-induced “madness” would look very different. It could be achieved anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection or access to mobile data, and its cause would be quantified in exabytes, not volumes. Read more at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

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