Monday, September 25, 2006

Information overload ... leading to a clearout

I’m having an information clearout.

I’ve started to unsubscribe from lots of email circulars that arrive each week, and have set rules in Outlook to fire the remaining ones into folders to separate out the general interest (ie, ignorable and should have been deleted if I was a bit more ruthless) and the hot topics (ie, stuff I really should read but still won’t get around to). It’s a start.

Similarly, many of the paper trade magazines that weigh down our post man and pour through our letterbox will not get renewed. I’m struggling with one - which I actually pay for and don’t read. The ACM. It’s full name is a quaint: Association for Computing Machinery. Basically, the US equivalent of the British Computer Society (BCS).

Truth be told, I haven’t read a single magazine they’ve sent me for the last five years. On the other hand, if I have stopped enough of the other garbage arriving, I should have more time to read this one. And it’s good thought-provoking material, explaining all the latest developments that so intrigued John Self last week!

As I type, this feels like déjà vu. A familiar message that I’ve thought through and typed before. Oh dear. A quick search through the AiB archives shows up a similar thread back in the middle of August.

Back then I’d identified a digital content overload. Now I’ve come to the late conclusion that it’s not just digital. It’s not just periodical. It’s a recurring nightmare that perhaps requires drastic (and painful) action. A complete information overload - books, magazines, emails, the lot.

As the world finds more and more ways to bombard us with information, and more and more methods to tease into opening our screens and eyes to this stuff, can we train ourselves and each other to filter it before we drown. Will my toddling daughter naturally develop better methods to control the communication flood gates? Or will she cry “More data!” like Number 5 robot Short Circuit.

To finish on a lighter note, over the weekend I finally caught up with about three months of castaway island Lost action.


David Todd said...

...a very "Christian" thing to do..."lay up your treasures in heaven and not on earth" - what's the latest translation of that? :-)

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

I hadn't quite thought of it in those terms. But yes. It's Matthew 6 v19-20. Peterson's The Message translates as:

"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or - worse! - stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars."

And it finishes with "It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being."

Anonymous said...

Of course what you really need is something like an electric monk which Douglas Adams foretold of in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

For those not familiar with Adams' Electric Monk, read on.

Maybe we need a Digital Monk, rather than an Electric one? The Electric Monk believed stuff so you didn't have to. I just want something to soak in media and mark it as done.