Abstract - The Information Society 28(3)

Taming the Information Tide: Perceptions of Information Overload in the American Home

Eszter Hargittai, W. Russell Neuman and Olivia Curry

This study reports on new media adopters’ perceptions of and reactions to the shift from push broadcasting and headlines to the pull dynamics of online search.  From a series of focus groups with adults from around the U.S. we find three dominant themes: 1) most feel empowered and enthusiastic, not overloaded; 2) evolving forms of social networking represent a new manifestation of the two-step flow of communication; 3) although critical of partisan ‘yellers’ in the media, individuals do not report cocooning with the like-minded or avoiding the voices of those with whom they disagree.  We also find that skills in using digital media matter when it comes to people’s attitudes and uses of the new opportunities afforded by them.

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