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Q: Information ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Information
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: annie3219-ga
List Price: $40.00
Posted: 05 May 2004 18:28 PDT
Expires: 04 Jun 2004 18:28 PDT
Question ID: 341789
Can you find the source for a fact I ran across a few years ago that 
that a weekday edition of The New York Times contains more information
and data than a typical person in England in the 1600s was likely to
encounter in an entire lifetime.   The amount of information
in the world doubled recently in just five years.
Subject: Re: Information
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 05 May 2004 20:02 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
It appears that the original source for the quote about the New York
Times was a book called "The Cult of Information," by Theodore Roszak.
The book was originally published in 1986; an updated second edition
came out in 1994. The quote is often misattributed to Richard Saul
Wurman, who widely popularized it:

"It is hard to conceive a better way to approach the theme than with
the well-known quote: 'a weekday edition of The New York Times
contains more information than the average person was likely to come
across in a lifetime in seventeenth-century England'...

The above quote appears in numerous works by distinguished
researchers. In the article System Overload, published in Time
(12.9.96 pp.44-45), it is stated that the figure comes from Richard
Saul Wurman?s 1989 book Information Anxiety. And it is indeed right
there, in the book?s first chapter. Maybe Wurman himself,
world-renowned information architect, arrived to this conclusion in
1989, maybe not. What is true is that many of the works that take
advantage of this 'fact' to impress their readers quote Wurman on it.
And most simply don?t quote anyone at all.

Not less trustworthy, American journalist David Shenk, author of Data
Smog: Surviving the Information Glut, also does not resist the
temptation and includes the same information in his 1997 book (pp.
26-27). But this time the credits first go to Columbia University?s
professor Eli M. Noam, who mentioned the fact in his work Visions of
the Media Age: Taming the Information Monster. Dr. Noam?s source was
The Cult of Information: The Folklore of Computers and the True Art of
Thinking, a book by Theodore Roszak published in 1986, i.e. roughly
three years before Wurman?s book. Surprisingly, not even Shenk - whose
work is most recognised by its accuracy - got the figure from the
original source."

Voxel: The Digital Information

A recent use of the New York Times quote and a remark about the
doubling of the amount of information appeared in "Leadership 101:
What Every Leader Needs to Know," by John C. Maxwell.

"Did you know that more new information has been produced in the last
thirty years than in the previous 5,000? A weekday edition of The New
York Times contains more information than average people in
seventeenth century England were likely to come across in their
lifetime. The amount of information available in the world has doubled
in the last five years, and it keeps doubling." Search Inside the Book - Leadership 101

Regarding the doubling of the amount of information, things are
speeding up. A groundbreaking study from the University of California
at Berkeley had this to say in 2003:

"We estimate that the amount of new information stored on paper, film,
magnetic, and optical media has about doubled in the last three
UCal Berkeley: How Much Information? 2003 (Executive Summary)

The entire text of the "How Much Information" project is available as
a .pdf file. It's a whopper (112 pages), so it takes quite a while to
download (one is tempted to say that this is too much information).

UCal Berkeley: How Much Information? 2003 (Printable Report)

I hope this helps! If anything is unclear, please request
clarification; I'll be glad to offer further assistance before you
rate my answer.

Best regards,
annie3219-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Very fast turnaround.  Complete answer.
Thank you.

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