Information overflow is both inspiring and depressing. Inspiring is more or less the easy access to various information and communication resources, which in turn facilitate the exchange of ideas, knowledge and creativity. However, the impossible fathomability of infinite information space creates a feeling of depression and anxiety. Thanks to digital technology, the speed at which information is generated and distributed significantly exceeds the speed at which it can be perceived. The more the hypertext ocean of the web is filled with content, the more impossible it is to be ‘tamed’ by human senses.
In the ambivalent nature of information super-abundance, technological optimism and technological pessimism constantly compete. In fact, the two perspectives on the role of technology in the world of people have always been in conflict, but are now strongly intensified with the evolution and spread of the internet.1 This text looks at a conditional technological optimism, aiming not at postulating utopian aspirations, but at illustrating how scientific and technical elites do not lose their desire to overcome depressing complexity by seeking bold optimization solutions.
The focus of this paper is on an innovative technological system for processing online news, namely the publicly available Europe Media Monitor (EMM).2 The interest in this monitoring tool is multifaceted. In most general terms it is interesting to trace the technological solutions with which computer science specialists are trying to discipline the information flow. However, EMM is also interesting as a powerful tool for understanding reality on the basis of statistically processed news databases. This study provides examples of how EMM-enabled media content processing options may be used as a basis for further detailed analysis. Of importance are also the social and institutional intentions behind the development of such a system: what are the motives and the uses associated with such an intersection between news and intelligent software.