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not to lose it. If nothing else

Mooers’ Law : An information retrieval system will tend not to be used whenever it is more painful and troublesome for a customer to have information than for him not to have it.

      If this law is true — and I believe it is — this is indeed a pessimistic and even a cynical conclusion. In the building and planning of our information handling and retrieving systems, we have tended to believe implicitly, and to assume throughout, that having information easily available was always a good thing, and that all people who had access to an information system would want to use the system to get the information. It is now my suggestion that many people may not want information, and that they will avoid using a system precisely because it gives them information. I shall now try to justify my assertions.

      Having information is painful and troublesome. We all have experienced this. If you have information, you must first read it, which is not always easy. You must then try to understand it. To do this, you may have to think about it. The information may require you to take decisions about it or other information. The decisions may require action in the way of a troublesome program of work, or trips, or painful interviews. Understanding the information may show that your work was wrong, or that your boss was wrong, or may show that your work was needless. Having information, you must be careful

not to lose it. If nothing else, information piles up on your desk — unread. It is a nuisance to have it come to you. It is uncomfortable to have to do anything about it. Finally, if you do try to use the information properly, you may be accused of <strong>puttering instead of working</strong>. Then in the end, the incorporation of the information into the work you do may often not be noticed or

                                                                                                                                          appreciated. Work saved is seldom recognized. Work done — even in duplication — is well paid and rewarded.
      Thus not having and not using information can often lead to less trouble and pain than having and using it. Let me explain this further.In many work environments, the penalties for not being diligent in the finding and use of information are minor, if they exist at all. In fact, such lack of diligence tends often to be rewarded. The man who does not fuss with information is seen at the bench, plainly at work, getting the job done. Approval goes to projects where things are happening....

The image is a google books preview snippet to Calvin N. Mooers, “Seven System Models,” being Part II. of his Information Retrieval Selection Study (Zator Company, 1959) : link

That excerpt is here wrapped in the language that immediately precedes and follows it, from “Mooers’ Law; or, Why some retrieval systems are used and others are not,” Zator Technical Bulletin 136 (December 1959), a two-page document and its manila folder, Stanford University Libraries, Dept. of Special Collections : link (pdf)
the text is widely available, btw.

Calvin N. Mooers (1919-94)
wikipedia : link

was actually looking for a different Mooers — Marguerite Mooers Marshall (1887-1964), a newspaper writer and novelist (about whom more anon)

8 March 2024