Swiss Museum Aims to Cure Information Overload

By Sean O'Neill
October 3, 2012
Courtesy <a href="">cambodia4kidsorg/Flickr</a>

Run a Internet search on "information overload" and you'll be swamped with results: more than 7,170,000 results hits in a quarter-of-a second.

Everybody faces a tsunami of information every day. And that doesn't even count e-mails to respond to, virtual friends to check in on, and news articles to "like." Well, now you can receive "treatment" for information overload at the Museum for Communication, in Bern, Switzerland, which is showcasing a temporary exhibition through next summer called "Warning: Communication Can Be Dangerous to Your Health."

The exhibition starts with a room lined with 12,000 books on a shelf, representing all of the new

information published worldwide daily, according to a report on the museum by Agnes Pedrero of AFP. Visitors who are overwhelmed by information go to a "check-up room," where they fill out a questionnaire.

Visitors then have two options: They can enter the room behind the red door or the room behind the orange door.

The red door leads to a meditation room with black cushions and a red light with a woman's calming voice urging the visitor to let go of stress.

The alternate room with an orange door leads to a simulated nature scene, where you can think calm thoughts.

As you leave the exhibit, a vending machine punches out for you a cheat sheet of tips—called "Comucaine"—to take with you after you leave. The tips on staying sane despite the "data deluge" and the "time famine" include: find time to focus, with as many distractions turned off as possible. Try to avoid checking your e-mail first in the morning, insisting on a half-hour out for yourself for some project that's important to you—as opposed to something that's "urgently" needed by someone else, such as your child, your boss, your spouse.

That may seem like common sense. But if it's one thing this museum exhibit shows, the more information one consumes, the less common sense one has.


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