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Having Too Much Information Can Narrow Your Focus

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the no-grandma-i-don't-want-to-hear-about-your-doctor's-visit dept.

Social Networks 144

CeruleanDragon writes "This excerpt sums up Dave Pell's article at NPR pretty well: 'Google's Eric Schmidt recently stated that every two days we create as much information as we did from the beginning of civilization through 2003. Perhaps the sheer bulk of data makes it easier to suppress that information which we find overly unpleasant. Who has got time for a victim in Afghanistan or end-of-life issues with all these tweets coming in?' It's a valid point. If it's not tweets or Facebook posts, it's lengthy forum arguments or reading news articles from the time you walk in the door at work until you're ready for bed at night, and realizing you didn't actually accomplish anything else. Sometimes too much information can get in the way of living and can bury otherwise important things."

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reading news articles... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246754)

Reading news articles...like this one. Now we just need a lengthy forum argument and we'll have a perpetual motion machine!

Re:reading news articles... (0, Flamebait)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 4 years ago | (#33248256)

Now we just need a lengthy forum argument and we'll have a perpetual motion machine!

Good idea! I'll start:

Vim > Emacs

I used to collect money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246756)

... now I collect information. What's wrong with that?

Re:I used to collect money... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247078)

information makes you smarter and less likely to be a good slave to the spiritual barenness that is western materialism.

Too early. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246758)

I will come back to the thread later, when there are several hundred comments to read.

every so often, you have to turn off the toys. (4, Funny)

swschrad (312009) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246770)

perspective is import... OOOHHHH, shiny.

Having Too Much Information Can Narrow Your Focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246890)

OOOHHHH, shiny.

I'm sorry. What were we talking about again?

Re:every so often, you have to turn off the toys. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33248016)

My grandparents got a color TV before my family did. We'd go to their house and glom onto to the set. My grandparents sighed. Then they told my dad to buy any color TV he wanted and they would pay for it. We weren't so dazzled at the grandparents house anymore, so they got to spend time with their grandchildren. They could have just ruled no TV watching at their house. My grandparents were clever, compassionate people.

Technology, like people, become socialized as they mature, but we're the one's who adapt. Which is to say we become accustomed to its qualities and uses. Books are a socialized technology - we "know" them very well. We knew scrolls before that. We knew how to enter content, consume content, and archive content. We knew how to delete content. This helped shape what we considered "knowledge" and the socio-political power of harnessing control of it.

We'll learn how and when to use this and future technologies, but we do need to wear ourselves out before then. Like a much-desired birthday present that becomes part of your life six months later.

I'm not a Coward - I just don't know if I'll post here again, so why bother to create an account. Call me @Maggid

Fuck Islam! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246776)

Re:Fuck Islam! (3, Funny)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246976)

You want to have fuck all three of those things? I mean one is ethereal, one is a long-dead man, and one is a religion. But hey, what rings your bell man. I am sure there are many Muslims who may not swing that way, but who appreciate the thought. How can one person have so much love in their heart?

Re:Fuck Islam! (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247788)

I think he just has a crush on Cat Stevens.

realizing you didn't actually accomplish anything (2, Insightful)

xMilkmanDanx (866344) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246778)

sounds like a day in the life of average slashdotter. honestly this is too many days of my life lately. I think I'll go write some code.

Re:realizing you didn't actually accomplish anythi (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246876)

For the longest time I couldn't understand why anyone would troll the Slashdot news articles. It's relatively easy to get positive mods on your comments if you can post something half intelligent in the first few minutes of an article going up, as long as you write in a clear and concise manner.

Except today I realized something;
No one upmodded my comments, so there weren't as many responses to my comments. There weren't as many responses so I didn't visit slashdot as much. I didn't visit slashdot as much and I actually got some coding done today.

It all makes perfect sense to me now. By having a lower karma on /., I'd be a better employee. I'm surprised it took me so long to see it.

Re:realizing you didn't actually accomplish anythi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246924)

+5 Irony

TV? (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246786)

If it's not Tweets or Facebook posts, it's lengthy forum arguments or reading news articles from the time you walk in the door at work until you're ready for bed at night, and realizing you didn't actually accomplish anything else

RIght, because before the information explosion on the internet, people never watched TV from the time they walked in the door until they were ready for bed at night, accomplishing nothing. The newest shiny toy is always a distraction, if you aren't going to learn to overcome being distracted, there will always be a new thing to ruin your productivity.

And if you disagree with me, by golly, I'll stay here and argue with you until the sun goes down if I have to!

Re:TV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246948)

Somebody is wrong on the internet!

Re:TV? (1, Funny)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247514)

Haha!

Oblg.: http://xkcd.com/386/ [xkcd.com]

Re:TV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247720)

best xkcd ever!

Re:TV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33249050)

smbc kills xkcd

Re:TV? (2, Insightful)

willabr (684561) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247064)

"The civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny failed to take into account man's most infinite appetite for distractions." Aldous Huxley

Re:TV? (4, Interesting)

CrashandDie (1114135) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247228)

There's another thing that makes me go "duh", even more than the TV argument.

Books.

I recently had a discussion with a friend who was amazed that these days, there was so little censoring in the 100+ page media. He wondered if our governments (or corporations as he now calls them) were getting sensible.

I've always been amazed at this train of thought. Books don't require censoring anymore. There are so many books coming out, every single day, that it would be impossible for the public at large to have a "big thought" pierce through the cloud of utter bollocks that is being printed. Books had a very big potential for spreading ideas around the world; or at least countries.

Everyone can get a book published and printed. Heck, I have two books in print, and three which are currently being "worked on" -- and I went the old way, with a publishing house taking me under their wing, and I have some semi-monk semi-guru who tries to inspire me on a weekly basis.

Today, you'd be hard pushed to find anything remotely interesting or exposing novel ideas. It seems to me that as a whole, the amount of information is only a repercussion of a more general trend: people don't give a shit. After having to deal with mortgage, picking up the kids and dealing with an ego-driven sadistic boss, people don't want to care, they don't want to think.

Does this mean that there has been a shift in the way people think, or the fact they want to unwind? No, not at all.

The only real difference, is that now, through the limited costs of publishing things around the world, the crap you used to hear at the local pub now comes right into your inbox, or some idiot in Vermont has enough free time to actually write a whole book around it.

The dynamics haven't changed one bit. Only how the media presents itself, and how the crap flows down the drain.

Re:TV? (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247726)

Fucking books, how do they work?

Re:TV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247582)

"TV"? You forgot the "Tropes" part.

Re:TV? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247954)

Agreed.

Besides I don't think it's harmful to be addicted to reading slashdot or facebook updates. It's perfectly normal and healthy. Now where's that "F" icon so I can share this interesting article with a bunch of "friends" I've never met?

FB is probably like CB Radio
- a fad that will die out in a few years when
people realize what a gigantic waste of time it is

Re:TV? (3, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33248374)

Actually, this is probably correct. It's been known for some time that sales end up going down in stores that offer too many choices. People will develop a strategy of just randomly grabbing a bottle of ketchup, picking the habitual brand or not buy any at all. More than a few choices tends to lead to paralysis and nobody ends up selling their item. I don't personally think that it's a stretch to extend that to information which only costs the time it takes to find and evaluate it.

It's worse now because we have some degree of control over it. When I was a kid and we only had a couple channels, that wasn't a problem, we could flip channels or turn it off, that was about it. These days though, we've got a ridiculous number of sources available and it's far more than the take it or leave it that we used to have. We can't really default to a whatever's on approach and end up with anything other than static.

That's OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246790)

Most of that info is worthless junk anyway, like the inane stuff in Facebook and similarly stupid sites.

On the other hand (5, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246794)

When faced with an engineering problem, I can dip into the vast sea of information at my fingertips and instantly find answers instead of spending all day flipping through hardbacks at computer literacy, bullshitting with local sales reps to try and get copies of data sheets faxed to me, or just plain wasting time figuring out something out that's already been solved. This leaves me more time to work on the interesting stuff, or fart around on Facebook if I feel like it. I'm failing to see the downside. If you're a distractible person you can be even more distracted if you want to. If you're a productive person you can be even more productive if you want to. More information, please.

Re:On the other hand (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247090)

More information, please.

Agreed. It's not only that we have more information, we have more easily accessed information.

Instead of wasting time looking for information generated by humans, I can devote my time to looking for information hidden in nature.

Re:On the other hand (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247506)

Instead of wasting time looking for the right information, I can waste time absorbing the wrong information!

Re:On the other hand (3, Funny)

GSV Eat Me Reality (1845852) | more than 4 years ago | (#33248188)

If you're a distractible person you can be even more distracted if you want to. If you're a productive person you can be even more productive if you want to.

  Or, if you're subject to both tendencies, you can suffer from Extreme Informational Cognitive Dissonance Syndrome and eventually end up playing Tetris all day.

  Yes, one can suffer from both at once. As an example, it's like spending four intense hours searching forums trying to find that one variable setting you need to make xorg work properly, then you promptly get distracted by an youtube video someone sent you in your email, and forget to finish the build for two days.

  This is of course just a hypothetical situation, nothing of the sort has ever happened to anyone...

Re:On the other hand (1)

tycoex (1832784) | more than 4 years ago | (#33248556)

I can relate to that 100%

Re:On the other hand (1)

jmvq9 (1878226) | more than 4 years ago | (#33248592)

Agreed - I can't find a loophole in using WolframAlpha to facilitate finding integrals, derivations, or a Taylor series that makes me feel like all this information is too much. Besides, when information was 'less', didn't that mean fewer people controlled the flow of information thereby minimizing the market place of free ideas? For a founding concept of Democracy, I find it nearly Medieval to show such longing for the days of information underflow. But I suppose I can see the quaintness of times gone by. "My head feels warm and I can't keep food down, maybe tomorrow I'll load up the buggy and visit Old Man Merlin for a magic cure."

Bull. (5, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246800)

The bulk of information created before the advent of the Printing Press has been lost. We only have fragments of data from the Roman Republic and Western Empire. Same goes for a host of empires and states.

We create more bytes of data and more copies of data while we track things much closer, we really don't know what was created before. We don't know all the works of art, mundane information and data saved by the Romans, Greeks, Han, Aztecs, Maya, Egyptians or Celts, or any of the thousands of other civilizations.

Re:Bull. (5, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246972)

We create more bytes of data and more copies of data while we track things much closer, we really don't know what was created before.

You know, that makes me wonder how much of all this data that we're assuming is going to create a "permanent" archive is really going to be permanent.

I remember hearing about this kind of information overload back in the days when we backed up data on 200MB magnetic tapes. Those tapes got stacked in closets, pile upon pile, and nobody's ever going to look at most of them ever again.

I wonder if in 250 years people are going to say the same thing about our culture that you said about the pre-printing press days. A lot of books were printed that are gone forever. Magnetic coatings on mylar tape have flaked off. I've got a drawer full of old external drives. I'd bet that in 10 years if I were to plug one in, assuming there were still USB ports on computers then, that at least one of those drives is going to fail.

I'm not saying digital information isn't more persistent than print on vellum or impressions on clay cylinders, but at some point somebody has to care about that information if it's really going to be available to future generations. Look how many films from as late as the 1970s have already deteriorated and are lost. I just heard someone talking about the archives of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Apparently, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were on together once in the early 60's. But because some production manager decided that tape was too expensive not to re-use, there are no copies left to see except about 2 minutes of 8mm film someone shot off of his TV set (at a different frame rate, too).

Even when you have a "permanent" record, at least today, it's not really permanent unless someone cares enough to maintain it.

Re:Bull. (3, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247088)

There was alot of tape destruction and data loss in early TV, like pretty much the entire DuMont network, a ton of black and white stuff from the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Sure I create a ton of data during a day, but alot of those numbers are artificially high, I go out and google search and get hits back, all those google logo, ads on the side, those go millions of times a day, so is that "information" created each time it's uploaded and then downloaded?

So would information created in 1500 include the audio information of a town cryer? And how do we measure that bandwidth?

Saying things like "we create more information every hour than the Roman Empire did during the entire reign of Augustus" is kind of nonsense on a number of levels. /. in 2300
More p0rn is created every nano-second than was ever downloaded from 2000-2010.

Re:Bull. (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247590)

/. in 2300: More p0rn is created every nano-second than was ever downloaded from 2000-2010

Really? Well, from 2000-2010 we have generated a LOT of porn. That is a LOT of girls naked and fucking. According to your future statistic, that means there will be, in just one day, 10 trillion times more naked chicks fucking .

That means my odds of getting some of that had to increase by at least 1/2%. Future is looking good....

Re:Bull. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247686)

You're on /., so let's make a quick calculation...

0 * 1.005 = 0

Not "looking good" to me.

Re:Bull. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247798)

that means there will be, in just one day, 10 trillion times more naked chicks fucking .

Are you packet-sniffing my DSL line?

I admit, my attention-span has diminished, but I don't think I've ever gone over 2 trillion.

Wait, are we counting up-skirt and fetish videos?

Re:Bull. (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#33248746)

Of course. The really important stuff will get saved. Some of the background noise will also survive, just due to the curiosity of historians and archivists. The rest will be flushed or just lost with time. Status quo - no change over what we have from past generations. The only difference is that our population is so much bigger, and our archival methods so much better, that the sheer quantity of saved data is bound to be much higher. But the idea that EVERYTHING we generate will be archived forever? Please. If I thought that was the case, I'd be much more careful about the comments I make on here :)

Re:Bull. (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247054)

Additionally, although we create a huge amount of data on a daily basis how much of it is actually stored past a year or two? How much of it will ever be seen again?

I generate several dozen gigabytes in log files every week, but with logrotate that data is going to be destroyed automatically. I expect that statistic includes an awful lot of information that is similar.

As for your example, I am sure your right that there was a Roman citizen who owned a tavern and kept some sort of logs during his course of business never to be seen again. Or perhaps destroyed for the same reasons we might today.

Re:Bull. (1)

Naturalis Philosopho (1160697) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247056)

While the time scale involved when talking about human civilization prior to 2003 is large, the increase in human population over the past two decades is an even larger factor. Consider that there are currently 6% of the people alive today that ever lived and died, in the entire history of humanity (really, look it up. That's 1/16 of the people in a 1/52,000yr time slice.), and you begin to realize the scale of what we produce, not just in information, but also in material. Factor in that writing materials weren't even invented for about 47,000 yrs of that history, and the knowledge of how to write (let alone alphabets and the very concept of writing) hasn't been widely known throughout most populations, and it becomes easier to realize that, yeah, those twitter posts add up.

Re:Bull. (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247122)

And the bulk of the people alive today create no digital or analog data.

One doesn't need to have writing to have information or culture.

Re:Bull. (5, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247114)

The article confuses "data" with "important recorded stuff". Long before Twitter people would say "I'm going to lunch now". People used to have long discussions in person without the internet being involved. People crunched lots of numbers too. The difference is that now it's recorded and saved.

What is more accurate is to say that "we're archiving more useless data now than we ever used to before".

no argument here (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246802)

it's lengthy forum arguments
 
I didn't argue in a forum today.

Re:no argument here (1)

Jeek Elemental (976426) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247402)

yes you did

Re:no argument here (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247522)

no he didn't, it's us doing the arguing. isn't that obvious? :P

Re:no argument here (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247746)

He claimed there was no argument here, yet as I live and breath, there is an argument here!

Why did you lie to us magnarity, why?

Herbert Simon (3, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246820)

In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.

-- Herbert Simon (1916 - 2001) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Herbert Simon (1)

endymion.nz (1093595) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246850)

Seems like a convincing argument to get people to stop reading and go back to the coal face.

Re:Herbert Simon (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247988)

I look at it as a convincing argument for IT to present information to everyone in a manner that is concise, that more information is not necessarily better, as it distracts the information consumers from the main task of running the business (because they are hip-deep in information that is not pertinent).

Just as large quantities of spam reduces the usefulness of email, large quantities of irrelevant information reduces the usefulness of the information provided by our corporate information systems.

Herbert Simon has some very excellent writings and opinions on this topic.

Re:Herbert Simon (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246852)

Given that in capitalism it's always the scarce good which is paid for, shouldn't we get paid by the information providers for giving them part of our attention? :-)

Re:Herbert Simon (1)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247106)

Given that in capitalism it's always the scarce good which is paid for, shouldn't we get paid by the information providers for giving them part of our attention? :-)

We do get paid. Some of my friends did some sort of "watch adds, make $5 an hour" 'job' through highschool. But most information sellers still tend to barter: "We'll let you hear about important happenings in your area, right after these commercials!" Unfortunately the people who want to buy our attention often only wish to let us learn how to give them their money back or otherwise waste our time and money.

Information is plentiful, but _good_ information, relevant or enjoyable to me is a scarce commodity and often hard to find through all the other info, so I still often pay for it.

Re:Herbert Simon (2, Interesting)

tee-rav (1029032) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247186)

The price to keep a person on task is high; the price to distract one is relatively low.

We are selling our attention whenever we're on the clock.

When we're recreating, it's different: Capitalists, having made a big enough bunch of us look at some shiny content they own, then sell other Capitalists the right to divert our attention with their ads.

Good, well-placed ads distract people and keep them on task long enough to spend their money.

Interesting idea... (1)

tool462 (677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246838)

Now let me just jump straight into reading the comments, and ignore the article all together.

ADHD? (2, Funny)

KnightBlade (1074408) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246870)

Yeah it gives a new meaning to ADHD. You start reading something on slashdo.... Hey ars technica is reviewing tha.... oooo gotta retweet thi.... dammit! I missed my vanpool. It almost happened.

Re:ADHD? (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247048)

That really happens to me :( I'll be reading a technical article or something and as I'm flipping to a tab with the diagram or something, I look to see what the market is doing, what's posted on /., post some 2-bit opinion on /., then over to Digg to post another 2-bit opinion or fuck with someone, then to see news, then I realize I just pisses away 30-40 minutes and then I'm back to the article and looking at the diagram.

Then, the article mentions another diagram or I have to look up a term and round and round I go.

I'm supposed to be reading about some heterosexual radio receiver or something like that right now.

For some reason I concentrate on books better.

Re:ADHD? (1)

KnightBlade (1074408) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247124)

Ok, that's too much information. What was I doing again? :P

A walk through the forest is informationally rich. (3, Interesting)

amanicdroid (1822516) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246880)

The world is an information-rich place. It was before we showed up and after we leave. The only difference we make is that we intentionally record data.

When you walk on the beach your interpret the sound waves of information as noise because you're unable to comprehend any deeper meaning than the existence of waves crashing nearby.

Re:A walk through the forest is informationally ri (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247408)

I think more or less this guy is just whining that people don't pay attention to what he thinks is important. I see no evidence that people aren't capable of paying attention to important things anymore. However not everyone considers everything important the same as everyone else. Also there's the simple fact that when talking about bad news, after awhile you get dull to it and you don't want to hear anymore, you want an escape. I certainly remember that on 9/11. After watching the news on it for a few hours I had to tune to Comedy Central, one of the few networks doing regular programming. While I certainly felt the events were important, I couldn't handle any more. It was overwhelming, I needed some escapism and something to try and make me laugh.

Something else he's missing is that with the increase in information has come an increase in our ability to sift and filter. So while there are mountains of information out there, you can filter it to only what it important to you much easier. It isn't as though you are forced to wade through irrelevance, unless you want to.

Server farm fans = crashing waves (1)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247474)

your interpret the sound waves of information as noise because you're unable to comprehend any deeper meaning than the existence of waves crashing nearby.

I hear that, loud and clear (no pun intended, ever). I remember when I tried to make the most quiet computer possible and found that, while the computer was dead-quiet, I couldn't concentrate worth a damn. Years later, I discovered that while my teen years had me throwing way too many fans in a computer because it was the hip thing to do at the time (loud meant fast in 1997), I got a whole lot more done because the noise drowned out the other sounds around me.

I now have a ten node renderfarm I like to work right next to. It was built to be quiet by server standards, but with almost a hundred fans, it's still loud enough to drown out most of the airplanes that fly over in the process of landing at the airport three miles away.

finding/processing the information isn't free (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246900)

One problem is that "information" is largely supposed to make things easier by giving you access to something that was already done: someone else already went out there and collected meticulous information on frog populations, so it's easier to get access to that information than go out and count frogs yourself. But as information multiplies, sometimes it really is easier to just count the damn frogs instead of making sense of the voluminous and often inconsistent frog literature.

Diderot noticed this in 1755, in a famous passage:

"As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes."

Cynically Translated (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246922)

You don't care sufficiently about issues I care about, and I believe popular social media is the culprit!

so what? (1)

Major Downtime (1840554) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246934)

"...reading news articles from the time you walk in the door at work until you're ready for bed at night, and realizing you didn't actually accomplish anything else. " - hmmm, as long as the people signing the paycheck don't realize that i didn't actually accomplish anything else and slashdot keeps feeding me news and lengthy forum arguments i don't mind :-)

That's why I bought a boat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246940)

The only communication device I carry with me on Lake Michigan is my emergency VHF radio.

Re:That's why I bought a boat (2, Interesting)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247438)

A boat being a hole in the water that you pour money into.

For those of us who can't afford such things, we are in the process of discovering that finding information is no longer the valuable skill that it used to be; now the skills are in demand are in filtering the info to get to what is useful. And that seems to mostly be a matter of anti-informing: deliberately choosing to be ignorant about things that just don't matter.

Of course there is the problem of determining what does matter. But that was probably always the case.

Don't read this... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246950)

...you've wasted another moment in your life. Could've become a millionaire, but oh well.

Re:Don't read this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33248008)

To save time, I make it a point to never type more than 64 keyst

People saw this coming (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246954)

This isn't news. The book is called Future Shock.

Narrow? (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246962)

Don't you really mean the opposite?

Re:Narrow? (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247246)

You know, I wasn't sure either, so I looked it up on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] . That was hard to understand, so I googled it and got this answer from Answers.com [answers.com] . But that left me even more confused, like wondering why that entry would be filed under "Sports Science and Medicine". I then looked for a book on google books [google.com] to aid my understanding. And apparently a narrow focus is a necessity for good business, as well as "animals in the wild". This was especially disconcerting because I didn't even know animals cared at ALL about good business.

All in all, I just don't know what to think about it anymore.

Loads of useless information (2, Insightful)

albinobluerhino (935977) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246982)

One of the major things that annoy me about networking services like Facebook and Twitter is the amount of useless information that is generated. Just generating information is not good enough, it needs to be useful, beneficial.

Re:Loads of useless information (2, Informative)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247476)

It's a matter of vocabulary.

Until it is useful, it is only data. When it becomes useful, it becomes information.

Information is data that has value in reaching an informed opinion or making an informed decision.

Oh Great.... (0, Flamebait)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246984)

Who's got time for a victim in Afghanistan or end-of-life issues with all these Tweets coming in?' It's a valid point. If it's not Tweets or Facebook posts, it's lengthy forum arguments or reading news articles from the time you walk in the door at work until you're ready for bed at night

Now some jackhole Senator is going to start campaigning about how Slashdot is responsible for civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the current economic crisis, and the elderly having inadequate welfare just to cover up his latest sex scandal. Way to kill off the competition NPR. =P

most facts are unimportant (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246988)

"... Sometimes too much information can get in the way of living and can bury otherwise important things."

Too much information always gets in the way. Napoleon Hill was the original mass-market "motivational speaker". He dedicated his life to teaching a science of success. One of the key aspects of Hill's philosophy is to focus on one's "definite major purpose" in life. What are you doing with your life? Some people are artists, others look to promote public health, others are builders or teachers.There are as many purposes as there are people.

This excerpt comes from Napoleon Hill's 9-cd package, "Your Right To Be Rich".

(Accurate Thinking)
 
... Now there are two major steps in accurate thinking and they
are, first of all, separate facts from fiction or hearsay evidence.
That's the first step before you do any thinking at all you must
find out whether you're dealing with facts or fiction, real
evidence or hearsay evidence.

        And if you're dealing with fiction or hearsay evidence it
behooves you to be exceptionally careful and keep an open mind and
not reach a final decision until you have examined those facts very
carefully.

And second, separate facts into two classes: important and
unimportant.

        Now what is an important fact? You'll be surprised when I tell
you that the vast majority of facts that we deal with - I'm talking
about facts now, not hearsay evidence, not hypotheses - the vast
number of facts that the majority of us deal with day in, day out
are relatively *unimportant*. Why?

        Well let's see what an important fact is then you'll know why.
An important fact may be assumed to be any fact that can be used to
advantage in the attainment of one's major purpose or any
subordinate desire leading toward the attainment of one's major
purpose. Now that's what an important fact is.

        The vast majority of people spend more time on irrelevant facts
that have nothing whatsoever to do with their advancement than they
do on facts that would be of benefit to them. Curiosity people,
people that meddle in other people's affairs, gossipers, and all
that sort of thing. Putting in a lot of time thinking and talking
about other people's affairs, dealing with petty small talk and
petty facts, in other words, dealing with unimportant facts.

        -Napoleon Hill, Your Right To Be Rich, Disc 6, Track 16-17

I've cut down on the amount of crap I read online since I heard this little bit a month ago.... I kind of keep current, but I don't care about minutiae like I used to, and when I catch myself reading about something that doesn't matter for me, I either start practicing my speedreading, or just close the tab.

Re:most facts are unimportant (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247022)

Napoleon Hill was the original mass-market "motivational speaker".

Did he live in a van down by the river? [google.com]

Attention (2, Interesting)

ryanisflyboy (202507) | more than 4 years ago | (#33246990)

I was listening to an interview on NPR while in my car. The point made was that most human beings have to work to pay attention, and can be easily distracted. It does not come naturally. As an example they explained that listening to the radio while driving made you a poorer driver. This is because most people's brains are incapable of processing that much information at one time. Just as this was said I started hearing car horns behind me. I had switched my attention from driving to the radio interview about paying attention while driving. I had stopped at a green light.

I believe that most of us have a physiological limit of how much sensory input we can process at once, and how fast we can switch our full attention from one task to the next. The distractions I have right now: the blackberry dinging, the "new mail" flag popping up, the "bell on screen 1" messages, gathering status of several simultaneous running jobs, and writing this post. Something has to be tuned out or lots of work is completed with little progress. I often use music (without lyrics) to drown out distractions, simplify the amount of messages going to my brain, allowing me to pay attention to one task at a time. I usually do this when the "background noise level" is so severe I finally recognize what is happening.

This is why I love /. Summaries for the weak minded and highly-distracted, like me!

What was precious by scarcity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33246994)

Is now worthless by plenty.

There is more value in one essay from Plato, than in all the blogs and comments that are writ each day.

This one included.

Plato. He does nothing! (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247472)

Next time you encounter a problem you think that you might find a solution to by googling for someone else's already existing solution - just read Plato instead.
You wouldn't want to use some worthless solution someone "writ" on a forum or a blog somewhere, now would you?

And tacking on that "Hey, my comment is worthless too..." is the same thing as asking loaded questions. [huffingtonpost.com]

BTW, this particular post's monetary value may be only 17004 dollars, 8250 Euros and 99147 Yen, but its cultural value is priceless.

Re:Plato. He does nothing! (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247822)

BTW, this particular post's monetary value may be only 17004 dollars, 8250 Euros and 99147 Yen, but its cultural value is priceless.

Wow, your rates are way off. Better fix em before someone takes advantage of you and buys your post for only 8250 euros, or, even worse 100k yen!

It should be 17004 dollars, 13263 euros, and 1,458,433 yen.

Or, if you truly feel it's only worth 8250 euros, then it should be 10560 dollars or 905,685 yen.

I can't imagine you'd only think it's worth 100k yen, that's barely 1,000 dollars.

Mischaracterization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33247046)

We may be creating a ton of data, but that is not the equivalent of a ton of information. And even a lot of that is probably information in such a limited scope (ie, access records to your cats blog page) that in the macro sense it is just noise.

Data Information (2, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247052)

Or is that Information Data?

Whichever, Schmidt has it wrong.

We're producing reams of data. Its information content is probably log(log(O)) as great as its data content, since log(O) is pretty much how information and data relate in the first place, and we're keeping what seems like exponentially more data than we would have thought to save in the pre-nearly-free-storage days.

Global Warming (2, Interesting)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247068)

So this explains why the Global Warming groups hide their data/programs.

Priorities (2, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247086)

Who's got time for a victim in Afghanistan or end-of-life issues with all these Tweets coming in?

What a shame. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Tweets are twaddle.

Perhaps we're all easily distracted - or need to be distracted. Perhaps wars half a world away or end-of-life issues are too sad, distant or abstract, to be a priority for thought, but they are there and they are real.

As I've mentioned before: I know the world simply disappeared for me when my wife was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in November 2005. All I could see and hear was her for the next seven weeks until she died in my arms. Twenty years together and a simple headache changed the course of two lives forever. Now I have trouble seeing or hearing anything. The future is gone and my star shines no more.

Dark Nights of the Soul (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247248)

I'm sorry to hear that. This is what little help I can provide:
    "Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life's Ordeals" by Thomas Moore
    http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Nights-Soul-Finding-Through/dp/1592400671 [amazon.com]
"When it comes to spiritual growth, we humans are solar-seeking beings; eager for the bright lights of clarity and the bliss of illumination. Paradoxically, we all need to walk through the shadow of the dark night in order to discover a life worth living, according to psychotherapist and spiritual commentator Thomas Moore. Unlike depression, which is more of an emotional state, Moore calls the dark night a slow transformation process, which is fueled by a profound period of doubt, disorientation and questioning. Ultimately, a journey into the dark night will reshape the very meaning of your life. As a self-proclaimed "lunar type," Moore is comfortable leading his clients and readers into the shadows, where ambiguities and mysteries lurk around every corner. He describes the dark night journey in stages, starting with feeling distant from your life even as you continue to go through the motions. The second phase is "liminality," meaning living on the threshold between the known self and the unknown self. This is perhaps the most uncomfortable phase as the dark night may "take you away from the cultivation and persona you have developed in your education and from family learning," he explains. After dwelling in this murky darkness, there's a stage of "re-incorporation," in which one integrates the profound inner transitions into daily life. Like a tour guide to the underworld, Moore leads readers through all these phases, offering tools and rituals for making the journey more tolerable or at least more meaningful. He also speaks to the many arenas and stages of life in which we might find ourselves stumbling through the dark, with chapters on marriage, parenting, sexuality, creativity and health. The scope is ambitious, and at times the structure seems disjointed--but this is perhaps Moore's best contribution since Care of the Soul, proving once again that he is a wise and formidable spiritual teacher. (Gail Hudson)"

tl:dr (1)

dwbassett42 (752317) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247112)

See subject.

The need for open source sensemaking tools (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247168)

See my comments in this thread here: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1746980&cid=33177866 [slashdot.org] in the article on the CIA developer going open source. One point I make is that the USA spends literally billions of dollars on developing ways for people in the intelligence community to make sense of a deluge of information; why should such tools not be FOSS and available to every person to help think through complex issues and improve their local community? See also Doug Engelbart's aspirations for Augment. I am working on such FOSS tools here as I have spare time:
  http://sourceforge.net/projects/pointrel/ [sourceforge.net]

Sturgeon's Law still applies (1)

Liambp (1565081) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247500)

Sturgeon astutely pointed out that 90% of everything is crap. In this era of information overload it has become impossible to sensibly sort out the good 10% from the crap 90% so the only rational solution is to narrow your focus to the first few non-crap pieces of information you happen to stumble upon. We nerdy types often berate non techies for the non-optimal way they use technology and yet for the vast majority of people life is just too short to figure out the "best" way to protect your files against antivirus or the quickest way to rename a group of files. It is entirely rational that most people latch on to the first method they stumble across which sort of works and stick with it.

wrong metric (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247602)

We RECORD more information. Information has been produced in rough proportion to the population at pretty much the same rate as ever.

To be fair... (3, Insightful)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 4 years ago | (#33247650)

We probably spend more time thinking about victims in Afghanistan than we did before we had the Internet.

Who has time for a victim in Afghanistan? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#33248168)

60-70 years ago, who heard of Afghanistan? Who heard about a victim in a city one state away, let alone had time for victims in the same city?

pandora88004 (1)

pandora88004 (1878232) | more than 4 years ago | (#33248214)

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Narrow Focus (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 4 years ago | (#33248390)

Sometimes narrow focus is a good thing. Just because there is all of that information available does not mean that it is good or reliable. When we learn which sources are consistently reliable we can focus on them and ignore the unreliable ones. Thus we have narrowed our focus in a positive way. I'm assuming here that the choice of reliable sources is made intelligently and objectively (as is humanly possible) and not just cherry picked to suit personal/subjective outlooks. Of course I did not read TFA. Doing so would have been way too wide angle. Fish-eye almost.

Having too much DATA can distract you from info (3, Insightful)

rcamans (252182) | more than 4 years ago | (#33248432)

We do not create much information each day. Information is actually useful stuff.
What we create tons of each day is useless data and distractions from reality.
Tons of BS and actual anti-information (lies and errors).
Tons of anti-data.
Tons of anti-reality.

Like for instance the title of this thread...

or most anything else on slashdot...

Re:Having too much DATA can distract you from info (1)

rcamans (252182) | more than 4 years ago | (#33248456)

The best example of anti-information currently available is of course from our federal government, courtesy of wikileaks. Yes, I am talking about the afgan war documents. And the feds were feeding that crap to themselves.
Yum yum

When people say "TMI"... (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 4 years ago | (#33248566)

I really focus on very few things only.........

Infowhosits (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#33248578)

> every two days we create as much information as we did from the beginning of civilization through 2003

Bollocks. We create none; information is ordered matter and/or energy. It can only be transformed. We may be making more of it more readily accessible to ourselves, but it was energy before that, matter before that, etc. If we created information directly there'd be less problem with carbon dioxide now and Google wouldn't be planning an arctic climate data center just for the cold air. And don't bother with the narrow viewpoint caused by belief in thermodynamics instead of understanding; if entropy ruled locally you'd have gone from egg and sperm to waste.

Information can interact and generate apparently simplistic structures etc. out of complex dynamics, just as you appear to be a body rather than the similar set of complex dynamic interactions that you are. Don't confuse apparent structure with underlying dynamics or emergent properties with actual physical manifestation. Information metabolism.

Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33248604)

We don't create more information now, we share more information now. We have always created mass amounts of information. We have just recently found an infinite forum to post the information. If a tree falls in the woods, does it make information?

Well, (1)

mr_da3m0n (887821) | more than 4 years ago | (#33249110)

I have ADHD you insensitive clods.

Okay seriously, because of that condition, reading that article just made me think "No shit, sherlock". Because I get that on a much smaller scale, so it felt pretty obvious to me ;)

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