n. Confusion and anxiety caused by a device or computer program that comes with an overwhelmingly large set of features.
Dr. Leonard Kleinrock, a member of the computer science department at the University of California at Los Angeles who is a longtime friend of Dr. Dertouzos, coined the term "feature shock" years ago to describe what happens when people get new computers all filled up with things that they never wanted in the first place.
At the same time, we all suffer from "feature shock." Most of us can't operate our VCRs, let alone understand all the functions of the latest spreadsheet, personal digital assistant (PDA) or the overwhelming options of surfing the Web.
The enormous expansion of computer power is generating new products that leave many consumers with "feature shock" — access to more capabilities in electronic devices than they need or can handle. (Complexity quickly leads to diminishing returns.)