Pardon my language, but I have always found the mindless rush to maximize detail (shadows, highlights, HDR, sharpness, resolution, larger format, larger enlargements, etc) somewhat of an anal fixation, a pissing contest, or a dick-size contest, depending on the mood I'm in.
It's not surprising, though. The Daguerreotype was (and still is) an incredible feat of detailed image technology. Can you believe the impact of the dag on people who seldom had any contact with images at all? Sometimes I have the impression that we want to re-create the daguerreotype's precision but we're not interested in doing it right, so we artificially squeeze all we can from other materials.
Having details is also like bureaucratic power. Think of the leader who has a humongous database of your each and every moves. What power lays hidden in such an amount of precise details! In photography, we can achieve something similar very easily. Some would call that the society of surveillance.
I think it also belies a certain fear of the world. By trying to capture so much detail at once, you are in fact refusing to make the effort of getting closer to your subject. If you can just take one big high-resolution picture of a crowd, and get away with selective blowups instead of taking portraits one by one, then you're not interested in engaging with your subject. That also reminds me of the rush from still photography to video: we would like to capture everything possible, and edit off-line instead of editing on-line.
In fact, I'm sure we would love to have a Google Earth that's updated in real time, replicating molecule for molecule what happens on the current Earth. That way, we could always rewind and freeze-frame everything that happens at any time.
Oh wait, that's what God (if she exists) is supposed to be able to do!