Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Information Overload?

Sometimes I wonder if we cram too much stuff into our heads. Two of the books I have read lately (The Black Swan and The 4-Hour Work Week) have suggested eliminating news from our daily intake. After reading these, it's gotten me to thinking.

Every morning, I set my alarm for 6:21. This allows me to hit snooze and wake up just in time for the 6:30 news broadcast on the radio. I blare the radio again at 7:30 as I am getting ready, just so I can catch the news. Then, I will often go into the office a few minutes late because I am sitting in my car listening to the 8:00 news.

Once I get my computer turned on, Google willingly hands me everything I need to know. I am supposed to keep up with no less than 6 publications (The Economist, The Financial Times, BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune and Forbes) for an economics class in first semester. Rather than trying to read each of them, I've put the feeds into my Google RSS Feed Reader. This, along with a more general news stream, and such great blogs as Freakonomics keep me informed of everything I need to know. And if I'm feeling an information defecit, I need only log on to Twitter to see what people are discussing. If I don't know what they are referencing, good old Google is there at my fingertips to tell me what I need to know.


It's a lot of information to take in. And yet, I'm addicted to it. Part of it is the desire to be able to discuss situations intelligently with others. (I remember Blagojevich coming up when I was at Darden for my interview. Since this wasn't front page news in Canada, I was so grateful it had been discussed in the Freakonomics blog so I knew what my fellow interviewees were talking about!) Part of it is wanting to synthesize what is going on in the world so I can see what direction the economy is headed. (Which is exactly why Taleb discourages reading the news in The Black Swan) And part of it, I must admit, is my ADD. Sit and concentrate on creating a report for an hour? No way... like shiny objects, the news headlines grab my attention as they scroll past on my reader.

I'm contemplating a mini news fast. Just a day of not listening for it, not watching it go by on my feed reader, and not googling every phrase that I don't understand. I am deeply passionate about knowledge, but I think that I need to start controlling how I synthesize it before I go crazy!


Julie B said...

Love this thought Julie, it fits so well with what is happening in my life. For me God is teaching me to rest and wait...I've virtually stripped my life of everything that screams for my attention and I've been allowing myself large chunks of solitude, quietness, rest and listening to the small still voice of God.I am SO not used to this! It is a foreign concept...shutting of off all the "noise" and being still...good stuff Julie!

Metal said...

First time here, nice blog. The amount of information from the 5 dailies you mentioned is huge. I can relate to your point, its been a very productive year in terms of learning! Keep bloggin!.Adios