Teddy Wayne has an interesting piece on the ubiquity of "ICYMI" in our Internet age. Standing for "in case you missed it," this tag alerts readers to an essential blog post/article/video/tweet/bit of digital effluvia.
Wayne notes that "ICYMI" used to be a gentle reminder to respond to an important message. This was before the omnipresence of smart phones and social media as a way to distribute content. ICYMI has now become an anxiety producer, a constant reminder that we are always missing more than we encounter.
It has ever been thus. As Ann Blair noted in her 2010 book Too Much to Know, frustration with "information overload" has been with us since antiquity. Thousands of years before the birth of "ICYMI," people were worried about missing out on some essential morsel of information.
We've always missed more than we absorb, and we always will. There is no reason to fret about this, it is the law of nature.
To keep up with important developments in libraries I trust the wisdom of crowds. Multiple mentions of the same thing--for example, last month's pseudo-move by Nature in support of open access--draw my attention, and often my reaction. The bits and bytes that are constantly churning along in the "biblioblogosphere" can keep right on churning, and I'll trust that I'll know what's important.
There's a print analogue of the anxiety caused by "ICYMI." I know several people who have cancelled their subscriptions to print magazines because they stack up unread and they start to feel guilty. I go through phases with magazines--sometimes I read every article, sometimes I barely notice any articles. (This corresponds to how closely I'm reading a book at the time). So the stacks mount, and eventually I recycle them unread and without shame.