Twenty-Fourth International Conference on Grey Literature: Publishing Grey Literature in Digital Century. 5 December 2022. View presentation.


Around 2000 years ago, the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger complained that his peers were wasting their time and money accumulating too many books, admonishing “the abundance of books is a distraction.” Instead, Seneca recommended focusing on fewer but better books and reading them thoroughly and repeatedly. After the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, the plethora of information the machine produced was thought by some to be distracting.

Today, information overload and digital over-stimulation cause digital burnout — a situation where physical and mental exhaustion is caused by spending too much time in front of screens. Symptoms of this condition are apathy, indifference, or mental exhaustion arising from exposure to too much information. Stress induced by attempts to assimilate excessive amounts of information from the media, particularly social media, the internet, or work makes us ill by interfering with our sleep, sabotaging our concentration and undermining our immune system. David Lewis, a British psychologist, calls this ailment Information Fatigue Syndrome (IFS).

This paper looks at Grey Literature Fatigue Syndrome (GLFS) as a particular type of IFS — the one directly related to an overload of grey literature. The GreyNet website lists over 150 grey literature types, including articles, blogs, images, videos, emails, web pages, press releases, lectures, manuals, academic theses, and many others. They, and many other types of grey literature, occupy a considerable role and are one of the main disruptors in our private and business lives, contributing to our digital burnout. The diversity of GL types, volume generated and shared, frequency of creation and change, currency, veracity, and value will be reviewed.

The purpose of the paper will be to generate suggestions on how to overcome Grey Literature Fatigue Syndrome. Additionally, it will offer suggestions on how to continue using valuable grey literature efficiently, and how to do all of this without causing unnecessary stress or wasting time.

Keywords: digital burnout, grey literature, Information Fatigue Syndrome