LDMartz on Wed, 10 Dec 1997 20:53:52 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> New ''dataholics'' generation on rise, survey says

By Susan Cornwell

LONDON, Dec 9 (Reuters) - A generation of ''dataholics'' is on the rise, with
over half the respondents to a new survey commissioned by Reuters saying they
crave information, especially from computers and the Internet.

The international survey of 1,000 business people, released on Tuesday, said
53 percent admitted to craving information and 54 percent claimed to get a
''high'' when they find what they have been seeking in an electronic search.

At the same time they often feel overwhelmed by all the information at their
disposal, and worry that their children are turning into info-junkies too.
Forty-six percent of those surveyed said their children already prefer
computers to their peers.

The survey is called ''Glued to the Screen: An investigation into information
addiction worldwide'' and is based on interviews with people in Britain, the
United States, Ireland, Germany, Singapore and Hong Kong.

''Is information the drug of the nineties?'' asked Mark Griffiths, a
psychologist and senior lecturer at Nottingham Tent University, commenting on
the survey.

''Have we become fact-fanatics and info-junkies? There is a very fine line
between having enough information and getting too much,'' Griffiths said.

''This report reveals a clear linkage between Internet abuse, data
accumulation and information addiction,'' he said.

Paul Waddington, a spokesman for Reuters, the global news and information
group, said information-gathering in itself was not the problem.

''It's a problem when it starts to affect the way people perform in business,
and in the way it affects their home life,'' he said.

''When people are spending three or four hours on the Internet, clearly it is
not good for productivity at work, and the same thing is true at home,'' he

The survey said 80 percent of respondents felt driven to gather as much
information as possible to keep up with customers and competitors, but over
half of them felt unable to handle all the information that they accumulated.

A whopping 97 percent believed their companies would benefit from information
management training. Eighty-six percent believed schools and colleges should
be doing more to prepare children to deal effectively with information.

''I don't think this is an argument in favour of the Luddite view of
technology. It is to support the effective use of technology, and not to have
time wasted by fruitless browsing,'' Waddington said.

The results of the survey also reflect the fact that the Internet is very
disorganised, he said.

Three hundred of those surveyed were parents. Of this group, 36 percent
worried that their children were over-exposed to information.

''If the children had their heads buried in the Encyclopaedia Britannia, they
wouldn't worry at all. They are concerned that what their children are doing
on-line isn't productive or helping their development,'' Waddington said.

The survey follows a 1996 Reuters report which found that increasing numbers
of people suffer ill health due to the stress of information overload.
REUTERS  Reut04:08 12-08-97

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