News for nerds, stuff that matters
Knowledge Overload or Internet Lazy?
Sun Jan 1, 2006 01:01

 
News for nerds, stuff that matters
Knowledge Overload or Internet Lazy?
By Zonk on learn-things-dangit

Dareth writes "Are we being overloaded by knowledge? Is the number of sources growing faster than we can keep up with them? These questions are posed by this article in USA Todays's tech section The article seems to suggest we need 'better technology to cope with the problems better technology creates.'" From the article: "With a generation growing up expecting everything on the Internet, libraries, non-profit organizations and leading search companies like Yahoo and Microsoft are committing hundreds of millions of dollars collectively to scan books and other printed materials so they can be indexed and retrieved online. HarperCollins Publishers even announced plans in mid-December to digitize its vast catalog."

Link

http://rss.slashdot.org/slashdot/eqWf?m=2794


Posted by Zonk on Saturday December 31, @07:51PM
from the learn-things-dangit dept.
Dareth writes "Are we being overloaded by knowledge? Is the number of sources growing faster than we can keep up with them? These questions are posed by this article in USA Todays's tech section The article seems to suggest we need 'better technology to cope with the problems better technology creates.'" From the article: "With a generation growing up expecting everything on the Internet, libraries, non-profit organizations and leading search companies like Yahoo and Microsoft are committing hundreds of millions of dollars collectively to scan books and other printed materials so they can be indexed and retrieved online. HarperCollins Publishers even announced plans in mid-December to digitize its vast catalog."

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/12/31/221242&from=rss


Re:Information overload a diagnosed problem?
(Score:5, Insightful)
by anagama (611277) on Saturday December 31, @09:14PM (#14372839)
(http://www.anagama-west.com/)

I was blessed with a terribly short memory from a very young age, but along with it came the ability to assimilate and aggregate seemingly different items together, and do so quickly. My bad memory led to VERY low grades but very high aptitude testing -- quite a conundrum. I took to BBSes and other forms of "instant variable information" quickly at a very young age, and when the Internet hit (mostly gopher at that time, from what I recall), I absorbed it immediately.

I was talking with someone just yesterday about knowledge. It seems to me that what is far more important than storing a bunch of facts in the brain, is storing the methods and means by which one can find those facts. For example -- if you memorized the population of Angola in high school 20 years ago, that's a useless waste of brain space because the answer changes from year to year and more importantly, because that data can be retrieved from various sources without taxing your personal resources (brain).

Now, before the internet, you would have to be familiar with librarys and card catalogs -- learning how to use those efficiently would have been of much greater value than memorizing a bunch of discrete facts. Today, the internet can provide a great deal of information in the same way, and learning how to navigate it through search tools is far more valuable than the individual bits of information a search turns up.

I think the whole "information overload" thing boils down to a lot of people who didn't learn "how to learn". If you learned how to discover new information in the most general sense, and on your own, the internet is not a source of frustration or overload -- it's a repository of all those things it doesn't make sense to store in your head. For people who need to be spoon fed every fact -- heck yeah, they'll be overloaded, but so what?

As to the parent poster -- don't chide yourself for being smart. It's smart to store only that information which you need immediately locally (and by locally I mean in your brain). Everything else belongs in an external but accessible database.
[ Reply to This | Parent ]

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Re:Information overload a diagnosed problem?
(Score:5, Insightful)
by servognome (738846) on Saturday December 31, @09:27PM (#14372867)
I think the whole "information overload" thing boils down to a lot of people who didn't learn "how to learn". If you learned how to discover new information in the most general sense, and on your own, the internet is not a source of frustration or overload -- it's a repository of all those things it doesn't make sense to store in your head. For people who need to be spoon fed every fact -- heck yeah, they'll be overloaded, but so what?

I agree, further this is a generational thing. Children typically don't suffer from information overload because they learn how to best utilize the tools at their disposal. Growing up they have a base of experience on how to prioritize and maximize information. This is most evident in the use of technology, as it changes so quickly. They demonstrate greater productivity because they aren't constrained by how things used to be.
For example while older people are used to just calling for all situations, children have learned to maximize the text message function. Instead of calling 5 people for a get together, they just send out a message to all 5. They even develop a text message language for faster communication, which would mystify those not familar with it.
 


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