Data Smog

What does Data Smog mean?

Data smog refers to an overwhelming amount of data and information – often obtained through an Internet search – whose volume serves more to confuse the user than illuminate a topic. Data smog is a term coined from a book written by the journalist David Shenk, which deals with the influence of the information technology revolution and how the vast amount of information available online make it increasingly difficult to separate facts from fiction.

The amount of data available on nearly any topic today is overwhelming, and while it can be advantageous, this constant bombardment can also have side effects that are not unlike air pollution in that they are gradual, insidious and largely invisible. These include impaired performance and increased stress. Experts have provided tips on how to avoid the effects of data smog. These include:

  • Spend some time away from communication devices, the Internet and the television
  • Try going on “data fasts”
  • Browse through newspapers and magazines and cut out the articles that you want to read and learn about
  • Make use of filtering for unwanted emails
  • Do not send or forward urban legends, chain letters or any useless information to others
  • Write concisely and briefly
  • Systematize your Web bookmarks or folders


What does Netwar mean?

A netwar is a form of low-intensity conflict that is waged by netizens, or people on the Internet (referred hereafter as networked actors), which include criminal organizations, transnational terrorists, social movement groups and activist groups.

The war is waged through decentralized and flexible network structures. It essentially refers to the conflict being waged over the Internet and networked systems such as information mobilization, hackings and counter-hackings, and, to a lesser extent, even very simple heated arguments over random topics between groups or cells.

Netwar is a concept unique to the Internet and information technology industry as a whole. It was introduced in the early 1990s by RAND Corporation, a US government-funded think-tank. The essence of netwar is the emerging forms of conflict in which the participants (i.e., networked actors) are made up of scattered groups and networks rather than of a cohesive institution whose main aim is to use knowledge, understanding and information in order to achieve a goal rather than to explicitly control physical resources and territory, which characterizes traditional wars.

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