The term infobesity has been used colloquially for several years to mean a variety of things, but typically it is taken to mean an overabundance of information. I am using the term in a slightly new way: to describe the physical and cognitive condition in humans that can result from over-consumption of information. Clay Johnson's work, The Information Diet does a good job of framing information as a consumable, one that can be taken in excess. My goal is to make the additional case that there is an observable neural mechanism for information over-consumption, as well as measurable physical and cognitive effects. These effects have an impact on the overall health and well-being of individuals, and in turn, on communities as a whole.
The pervasiveness of information and interactive systems, combined with the societal acceptance of constant interruptions from information flows, makes it very easy to binge on information. Information has a very similar reward value in the deep corners of the brain that respond to stimuli like food, sex, music, drugs, and other highly pleasurable things. This combination of high availability and high reward value make information a likely candidate as an addictive object. The effects can be seen in everyday life, from people obsessively playing social media games to train drivers crashing while distracted by information flows.
Why do we need an information diet? What ancient systems are at work in our brains and bodies that make us susceptible to information addiction? What measurable impacts are there on people and communities? Do we really need another pathology to warn the world about, more naysaying, and more empty less-is-more abstract nothingness rhetoric? Answers to these questions will be found in the forthcoming work tentatively titled Infobesity.
You can also read a short position paper that I presented at CSCW2012 for more information.