Despite the increasingly obsessive reporting of the BBC News Technology section, I don’t believe that we’re overwhelmed by information pollution. Adverts, spam, pop-ups and so on are a matter of technique rather than overload. In fact, one might argue that the BBC website wants to find a more intrusive wealth of redundant information, they don’t have far to travel.

It is, however, a mark of prescience in science fiction writing to predict this abundance, and the sheer weight of searching involved. Its going to be recognised as one of the things that the past got wrong about the future, in the same way that right up to the seventies, writers tried to impress with stories of ever larger computers filling vast buildings. This happened, note, while simultaneously suggesting that intelligent robots would be the size of humans.

Some did see this far, though. Much of the plot of 2061, Arthur C Clarke’s ‘missing’ second sequel (dropped from the cannon by the publishers so that 3001 could be declared the conclusion of the trilogy, and to improve its chances of moviedom) revolves around a search of a quasi-internet of information to determine what was at the core of Jupiter. In the novel, this search took several weeks and the hero’s entire research budget. I’ve just tried it now, and Google tells me that the search took 0.15 seconds. And it didn’t cost a bean.