Infobesity will become the next epidemic

Internet researcher Jim Stolze spoke at the Next Conference in Berlin

12 MAY 2010, BERLIN, GERMANY
Summary
Internet researcher and author Jim Stolze today warned of an impending ‘infobesity’ epidemic if we don’t learn how to manage our online information consumption habits more effectively – and especially those of children.

Speaking at this year’s Next conference, Dutch Internet researcher and author Jim Stolze warned of an impending ‘infobesity’ epidemic if we don’t learn how to manage our online information consumption habits more effectively – and especially those of children.


In his presentation today at Next ‘10 Stolze’s central line of enquiry has been the question ‘Does the Internet make us happy?’ Outlining his own research and using a range of pop cultural references, Stolze charted the different ways the Internet has been configured in the popular imagination, showing that it has been variously demonised and celebrated at various points in time.


“There has been a major shift in the quantity and quality of research on internet psychology since the advent of the so-called ‘Web2.0,’” said Stolze. Current research, he said, overwhelmingly supports the benefits of the Internet as a social and communication tool.


However, coupled with the growth and prominence of the Internet in our daily lives, Stolze also noted the chaos of the real-time web, and the dramatic increase in ‘junk information.’ Expanding the metaphor further, Stolze went on to equate information overload to unhealthy eating habits, warning of an impending ‘infobesity’ epidemic as our different online ‘feeds’ expanded and multiplied seemingly beyond control.


“This is a unique moment in history. Where children in classrooms right now have access to more information than their teachers do. Yet, it's our generation that's supposed to educate them about the need for moderation, filters and digital curators." 

“I’m advocating for a digital media literacy that has the same importance as proper diet education – and that’s our responsibility, together,” he went on to say.

Quotes
"I’m advocating for a digital media literacy that has the same importance as proper diet education." Jim Stolze
"I'm really getting into this Internet thing lately. I wish it was a bit more oganized." Britney Spears (2005)
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