Thursday, May 04, 2006

Handling information overload

Sometimes I realise I know an awful lot of stuff.

I'm not being bigheaded, it's just part of my job. Or, more to the point, jobs. Because I'm involved in so many industries - marketing, technology, filmmaking... and all of those industries have subsectors themselves - I have to be aware of a lot of stuff.

How to manage all this information? This is a very important question for just about everyone today. Here's how I do it - and this is more of an underlying principle than a practical how-to.

Overlaps
In her psychology studies, my wife Marie is under constant threat of information overload.

She's got a textbook the size of Albert Park, a study guide the size of a paperback Albert Park,
a CD-Rom, and lots of web links. And a husband who keeps asking "have you read this article?"

What she's learning is that it all overlaps with each other - after a while. As she learnt it, I realised I'd learnt this as well, but never articulated.

Mapping
It's just like arriving at a new city. If you're there for a holiday, you get to know the key tourist destinations, the place you're staying and little else.

But if you want to live in the city, you get to know the geography in much more detail, particularly the routes you often take.

What starts out as a huge, unfamiliar city becomes full of familiar haunts, and eventually you discover where one road (let's say the road you associate with going to work) links up with another road (the road to your best friend's place).

Gradually you get so familiar with it that you can form a mental map of the city in your mind. This is just what any area of learning is like.

When I first read about European history, all the books assumed I knew where Spain and France and Italy and Germany ... etc. ... were. I had to have an Atlas handy for the first few books, but eventually I began to remember places in relation to each other.

And then it struck me - that information will never be irrelevant! Europe will physically always be the same, even though borders change, and barring the possibility of an absolute disaster rearranging the continent.

So if you're learning anything new, be encouraged. What looks like a nebulous mass of information will soon become knowledge that you can use, and, more importantly, keep and build on.

2 Comments:

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Oberon said...

.....i've come to lead you...to the cure....for what ails us....visit me....read the link...the way of peace....share it.....save the world....make me proud.

 
At 12:11 PM, Blogger Simon said...

What link?

 

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