Mountbatten offers a vivid description of the current‐awareness function using the analogy of a very wide conveyor‐belt, representing the information publishers, on which books, periodicals and reports appear at random: ‘The searcher is on a platform just above the belt and as the information material passes underneath he can pick up and read anything that he thinks might be of interest to him. You can imagine his frustration as he realises that for every item he takes time to examine, hundreds of others of possible interest to him have passed by’. Personality and environment will determine whether the individual can find an intelligent compromise between the extremes of neurosis induced by worrying about the material he is missing, or complacency with any system which produces one or two interesting items.
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