4.0692 Summary: A Word for a Vice (1/56)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Sat, 3 Nov 90 12:11:07 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0692. Saturday, 3 Nov 1990.

Date: Sat, 3 Nov 90 07:16 EET DST
From: MANYMAN@cc.Helsinki.FI
Subject: De Infomania

Willard McCarthy's thirsty need for a (new) word for
- a pathological need for information
- due to "imaginative failure" or "intellectual cowardice"
- but not ascribable to soci(et)al amorality
has received a lot of answers. I think an interim statement
is in order. Notice that Willard made it a pragmatic condition
that the term should not require recondite knowledge. Henceforth,
this condition will be referred to as 'R'.

So far (Nov.2,1990), the following suggestions have been made:

(1) Infomange (Willard McCarthy): I agree with Steve Condit's
objections. (Incidentally, as a non-native English writer,
I first thought "-mange" would have something to do with
French "manger" 'eat').
(2) Infosatia (Hans Rollmann): This (Latinizing?) coinage looks
awkward (it's no Latin, no English, "infosatiety" would
probably be more English, but semantically beside the
point, I'm afraid.) As to Latin, "satietas" would be
morphologically O.K., not "satia". (R)
(3) Infoitis (Dana Paramskas): a cleverly formed piece of
medicinal Latin/Greek, but too concrete(?), and R(?).
(4) Dataphagia, dataphagiac, datarrhea (Patrick Conner, supported by
Ed Waldron): The first term is clear enough to a Grecist,
but probably: R. (Incidentally, why not "infophagia"?)
(5) Info-addiction (Mel Wiebe, Jascha Kessler). Well, this
might be close to the truth (whatever it is); Jeff Porten's
"news junkie" (an Americanism?) and "infoholic" belong here.
What an infoholic -- a funny formation, indeed! -- might be
thought to suffer from is "infoholism", I presume, but
"holism" (= 'wholism') might be somewhat misleading (?).
(6) Dataphilia (inferred from Robert Hollander's "dataphiliac"),
[why not "infophilia"?]. Well, not impossible, but perhaps
not sociopsychological enough, I don't know.
(7) Info-epsy (Leslie Morgan), coined on analogy of
"intellectualepsy", which looks awkwardly barbaric. (R).
By the way, "epilepsy" is /epi-lepsy/ not /epil-epsy/!
(8) Infocrave (noun?), info-fix, infodependency (Jascha Kessler).
Somehow the first looks like a religious term [but my
English competence may be insufficient]. I'm unable to take
a stand to "info-fix". On "infodependency", see (5) above,
(9) Philognomy (Jay Treat). A learned word, indeed, so R.
(By the way, why not "philomatheia" which exists as a
ready-made term in Platon?).
(10) INFOMANIA (Hans Rollmann, John Unsworth, Jellema, Dana
Paramskas, Robert Hollander, Peter Junger, 'Andrewo at
Utorepas') is the best one suggested so far. So, I'm
giving my vote to it. Jellema's cautionary note must be
heeded to: Felicia the Fact Freak is a real glutton:
Having slugged him on the left ear, she next time must
do it on the right ear -- the one left!

-- Martti Nyman
University of Helsinki, Finland